Grief Needs a Face
By Pat Schwiebert, R.N.
For some people that comes naturally; for others, especially in situations of grief, the desire is to hide away. Being isolated during this difficult time may actually make things harder. However, this is not to suggest that does you should have people around you all the time, since being alone is equally important in your grief. It is helpful to consider finding a balance. You need someone else who will see how bad you feel and how much it hurts — someone else who can acknowledge what they see and absorb some of that pain. At first you may need all the listening ears you can get. But down the road you will need just a few good friends- companions who will stick with you throughout the longer segment of the journey.
You need friends with loving arms (to give you hugs when you feel untouchable). You need friends with willing ears (to be sympathetic and non-judgmental, able to remember the important things and forget the unkind things you will say).
Sometimes you may need a friend to help you face your guilt, self-pity, or bitterness. While learning life’s lessons of unfairness, at some point you are likely to become painfully aware that life does not owe you anything. Instead of saying “Why me?” you can say “Why not me?” Having a friend during these dark hours will bring you comfort as you absorb the depth of these words.
In Life After Loss, Bob Deits offers some tips that may help you re-evaluate how you may be feeling about other people. Write these suggestions down and carry them with you. Pull them out and study them when you feel burdened by uncaring and insensitive actions or statements made by friends.
- I will not expect others to be better at handling my grief than I would have been at handling their grief before my loss.
- People cannot be something other than who they are.
- Most people want to help me. They mean well even if they do dumb and insensitive things.
- Others, including professionals, will not know what is helpful to me unless I tell them.
- I will be patient with others, as I want them to be patient with me.
Here is a curve you may not like, but it is an important one to consider just the same: you have to take responsibility for how you feel. It will be tempting to complain, “The saleswoman who called wanting me to sign up for diaper service ruined my day.” But remember, no one can ruin your day without your permission. Choose to feel.