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It’s not so much the fact that loved ones die that keeps us mourning, but the fact we are here without them. In especially close relationships the grief seems unbearable. When that special someone is the person we shared our intimate thoughts with, confided in, laughed with, cried with, shared life with, the desolation is brutal. It’s said that time heals all wounds, but I disagree with that sentiment. I think we carry the wounds for the rest of our lives, but time does help us carry on, despite the wounds. I think the worst thing about grief is the way it takes us back to experience anew every single occasion where we lost someone we loved like some kind of twisted and tortuous boomerang.
In today’s world it seems like grief is either ignored, shamed, or bullied into a dark closet. But people can only begin to heal once they feel safe and their emotions validated. I find it strange how, in our society at least, that people are so uncomfortable with grief. Yet death is the one thing that is an absolute guarantee. It will come to each of us – nobody is getting out of here alive.
In my family it’s okay to talk about death – though we, as individuals, may deal with the aftermath in different ways. Some seem so dry-eyed and strong while others cry copious tears and wear their hearts on their sleeves. It doesn’t matter what the personal expression of grief may be, it is, by and large, respected and accepted.
I remember years ago when I went back to school after a sudden death in the family how uncomfortable and awkward most of my classmates were around me. But there were two very young men who approached me to say ‘I’m sorry for your loss’ and how much their simple expression of condolences meant to me.
So, my advice would be, don’t be afraid to express simple condolences. While a grieving person may be in pain, your words may bring them a bit of comfort. Don’t be afraid to mention the person who died – most people are grateful to have their loved ones remembered. I think it hurts more to be ignored or to not have your pain acknowledged and/or validated.
I am speaking from my own personal experience, which may vary greatly with the next person’s. But I think we, as a society, have much to learn about coping with death. And to me ignoring it is not an option.