Grief is a lonely journey for the griever no matter how much support is offered. It’s a unique experience and nobody can fully comprehend the internal pain and suffering each person goes through. I have learned a lot along the way and I now have a passion to help others going through a similar journey.
Bereavement forums, blogs and websites are a lifeline for people like me. They provide a safe place for the things we cannot share with the rest of the world; a haven where we can safely disclose our thoughts and feelings with others who understand. I feel like I belong to an exclusive club where bereaved mums can feel comfortable with each other’s grief.
I have had people cross the road to avoid me. I understand that they probably felt so uncomfortable with my loss, that it was easier for them to cross the street and pretend to not see me. Maybe they didn’t know what to say, or do, and they feared they may make me feel worse. I appreciate that their intentions were good!
Maybe it’s about time we all had an honest conversation about grief by talking about the clumsiness and awkwardness that surrounds it.
First of all, it is no one’s responsibility to make the griever feel better. In fact, nothing anyone says will make them feel better, but the worst thing people can do, is ignore it.
Whatever you do, acknowledge the grief. It might make you feel uncomfortable and awkward, but that is nothing compared to what the griever would feel if you ignored it.
As a society we are getting much better at talking about mental health issues but when it comes to grief and loss, people want us to do that behind closed doors, privately. No wonder some people don’t know how to engage with it!
Conversations don’t have to focus on the pain and sadness of bereavement. We can share good memories and remember the funny, happy times. We can talk about the triumphs of life despite our loss. We can discuss how we honour our loved ones. It doesn’t have to feel uncomfortable and clumsy. What makes a great friend is someone willing to overcome the awkwardness and connect with you.
Don’t allow the awkwardness you feel to stop you reaching out.
Do you know someone who has lost a very important person in their life? Are you afraid to mention their name in case you make them feel sad? You cannot make them feel sad because they are already sad. When you mention their name you are remembering that they lived and that is a comfort and a great gift.
I can hardly believe it’s been three years since our precious son Matthew died. I am so grateful to all our family and friends for being a constant support and I appreciate they are also missing and grieving Matthew too. Communication is the key but you don’t need to be a qualified bereavement counsellor to be kind and compassionate.
Excerpt from A Mother’s Grief
Sit down beside me, reach out and take my hand.
Say “My friend, I’ve come to listen, I want to understand.”
Just hold my hand and listen that’s all you need to do,
And if by chance I shed a tear, it’s alright if you do to.
Author Kelly Cummings