To speak or not to speak: Responding to Grief


pexels-photo-356842 GRIEF

Photo Credit: Pixabay

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.

The Trial – day 2


I find myself reminiscing a lot – about my childhood and about my parents and siblings. Today was day 2 of the trial and again I am not there. I live in another province and between work and family obligations I am unable to be there at this horrid time. I had a nice chat with one of my brothers though, hence the reminiscing. I had five brothers and three sisters. Chris was the youngest. He was killed when an impaired driver plowed into him as he was heading home from work. Sorry if this is repetitious, but I don’t know who may be reading this. At any rate, my brother brought me up to speed on the happenings of the day. By all accounts it was rough for my niece (Christopher’s daughter, though she has been a real “little soldier”) and for all the family that was in attendance.

I am doing my best not to dwell on that though and instead I am sitting here with happier memories – like all nine of us children doing “the  twist” in the living room as old-time 50s rock blared from the radio (at least I think it was a radio). Dad hated that “new fangled music” so while he and Mom were gone shopping my elder siblings let it rip. That is one of my favourite memories – the older siblings teaching us younger ones how to dance.  Or the time we were all playing baseball up in the “back forty” of our property.  Chris was so little, but very determined. He played his heart out, his little legs pumping furiously as he ran for home plate. He was the baby of the family and the apple of all our eyes. It was impossible to stay angry with him for long because he had such a sunny and generous nature. I am trying my best to honour him by remembering the good times and all the best facets of his character – of which there are many.

Fair warning, if you are following this blog it will be filled with anecdotes about my younger brother. I am so glad to have had him. I will honor him. I will honor his memory today and every day. Despite the heartache of his passing Chris continues to bless us all by bringing us closer together once again – I just wish he hadn’t had to die to do so!