Your Grief is Terrifying to Those Around You

 

HereGrief’s what you don’t expect when suffering with the grief of losing someone you love; that suddenly the majority of the people you spend time with (family, friends, coworkers) are afraid of you.

“Afraid of me?”, you wonder, because really, what is more frail or feeble, than a person in the throes of grief?

It may not appear that they are afraid of you. In fact, it’s likely they don’t realize it themselves.

But consider this: prior to the loss of your loved one you may have felt that you had a mostly supportive group of friends and family. And I think for most, our hope is that when bad things happen in life, it’s going to be those closest friends and family who will be there to support us.

And then…surprise! We lose a loved one, and suddenly the network of people we can turn to shrinks.

How could that be? Don’t they know that their support is needed now more than ever? What could possibly make it so that the people we care about retreat at the time when we need them most?

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Grieving the Relationship That Never Was

Grieving

Most of the grief articles and forums I see are dedicated to the loss of a beloved family member. Stories, poems and tributes to the loss of a loved one that are filled with declarations and promises of a love that will never be forgotten.

It’s easy from this to assume that every person lost is being mourned by a person they had a long, loving and meaningful relationship with. Even within bereavement groups it can be assumed that people will only take the time to attend and to grieve for someone they loved and will miss.

But grief, like life and our relationships themselves, can be much more complicated than that.

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If You Can’t Stand To Look At The Empty Chair – Sit In It

loss of a loved oneWhen you gather a group of people who have lost a loved one, one topic that inevitably comes up is what to do with their “stuff”: clothes, medicine, eyeglasses…

You can split a room on this topic. One half who are holding on tight to their loved one’s belongings, keeping the toothbrush where it was left, shoes where they were taken off, and medications on the counter top.

The other half says they have a hard time looking at these belongings, as they feel they are a constant and sad reminder of the person who is no longer here. I remember a man telling me that he re-painted the entire inside of his house, simply to cover over and remove the pain he felt in looking at the colors and decorations his wife had chosen.

There’s no right or wrong answer in this debate (See our previous article on “Shoulds” if you need a reminder of that).

But what happens when it’s not so simple, and you’re finding it difficult to move forward. Let’s say you have cleaned out a bit by donating eyeglasses, throwing out those things that held little sentimental value, and giving away old clothes to family who wanted them.

If you shared a home with the person who has died- slept in the same bed, sat at a kitchen table with them each day, had “your” seats in the living room when you watched TV together- how do you handle being in those places without them?

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