Advice on Grieving
I’ve come to realize something really dangerous about grief: avoidance. It’s worse than denial and much more sneaky.
“If I avoid thinking about dad, I won’t be sad anymore.”
“If I don’t talk about dad, then I won’t have to think about grief and I can be done with it.”
Nope, wrong answer. Grief must be dealt with head-on. It’s messy, but, as with all messes, you’ve got to get knee-deep in it before you can clean it up. I’m making a point of acknowledging my loss. I talk about dad and my favorite memories with him. I cry when I miss him. If it comes up, I tell people about how I lost my dad.
Grief is real. Avoiding it doesn’t make it go away.
At this point, I imagine some readers are struggling to believe me, but let me assure you, not talking about dad in order to save me from hurting is just about the least helpful thing you can do. Here are some helpful tips for helping loved ones (and yourself) through grief:
- Talk about my loss. Dancing around the issue only makes the grieving person feel alienated.
- Ask me how I’m doing. Don’t look at me with that, “poor you, it must be so hard” face, but really ask.
- Listen to me. When you ask how I’m doing, really listen. Some of us need to talk through our grief, but won’t open up until you ask.
- Get dirty. Sit down and cry with me. Yell and scream and throw a fit with me. Just be with me and grieve with me and be a part of my mess.
- Don’t give advice. Don’t tell me it will be okay. I know it’ll be okay, one day, but right now it hurts. Don’t tell me how to grieve; everyone grieves differently.
- Make me laugh. If you can get me to laugh while I’ve got tears streaming down my blotchy, red face, rest assured that everything will be okay.
- Remember with me. As sad as my loss is, I have infinitely more good memories. Don’t look at me like I’ve got three heads when I talk about my loved one, but share your own favorite memories. That lets me know you remember the good things too.
I don’t presume to be an expert on grief, but I sure have had plenty of experience in my 27 years! Thanks for being on this grief journey with me. In the spirit of this post, would you share one (or both) of the following in the comments section:
- A piece of advice to add to the list I’ve started.
- A favorite memory of my dad (I’ll start, so check out my memory below)