Here are some quick tips to keep in mind if you are grieving or care for someone who has experienced a loss. These are, of course, from my point of view, but I hope it will be helpful.
- Recognize the pain. If I recognize my own pain, instead of trying to bury it, then it becomes easier to bear and something I can share with others who care about me. When my pain is recognized I feel as though my experience is legitimate.
- Recognize the joy. It's okay to celebrate and feel grateful, happy or joyful. Our loved ones would want us to cherish the holidays and our lives just as we cherish their memories.
- Don't try to cheer me up. Let me feel sad. It won't last forever and I have good reason to grieve.
- Grief is non-linear. There are no corners to turn, no bill boards that will announce GRIEF AHEAD or NO MORE GRIEF IN SIGHT. I may seem fine one moment and the next tear up. Laughter, tears, chattiness, quiet are all part of grieving because they are all part of life. If I start crying it's not your fault. It likely has nothing to do with you, it's just another wave of grief.
- Don't pretend my loved one didn't exist. Let me talk about him. Bring him up yourself and see how I react. I don't want the world to forget him.
- Let me have time to myself. Or not. Give me options and help me figure out what is best in this given moment.
- You don't know how I feel. In any given moment I might be feeling eviscerated AND grateful that I had the time I did with him. It's complicated. Instead of assuming, ask. Each loss is different and we all need be honored in our own grief.
- And if I'm seeming okay, let me be okay. If I'm laughing and smiling it doesn't mean I'm all better, it means I feel okay in this moment. Isn't that great? It doesn't mean I grieve him any less, it means I am figuring out how to live in the afterlife.
(c)2015 Laura S. Packer