When No One Understands: Communication & Grief


Communication. It is the foundation of every relationship and every interaction we have – and we all know it. Good communication leads to connection, along with a better understanding of ourselves and each other. Bad communication can result in anger, hurt feelings, misunderstandings and fractured relationships. Comparing the two it seems that we would all choose to have good and clear communication with those we are closest to, but it doesn’t often work out that way.

Communication can be hard even when life is good.

Sharing how we feel makes us feel vulnerable. We may worry about hurting someone’s feelings, making them angry, or coloring their perception of us. Perhaps we assume that words aren’t even needed. That those in our inner circle already know what we need, think, and feel.

So imagine how hard this can be in life after significant loss. In the support groups I facilitate we spend a lot of time (and I mean A LOT of time!) talking about “other people”. Close and distant family, friends, coworkers…all of whom seem to make a griever’s life more challenging at one point or another. And mostly it comes down to a lack of open and honest communication about life, death, grief, and loss.

At some point through this grief journey you have probably felt or thought the phrase I so often hear…”no one understands”. But why is it so hard for people to be supportive when we need them most? And what options are there to improve this very troubling consequence of loss?

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Sudden Loss: 5 Ways it Differs from Expected Loss

There’s never a good time or good way to lose someone we love, but if we experience the sudden loss of a loved one…is it harder?

Sudden Loss
I shy away from this type of debate in the groups that I run. While validating a griever’s loss is one of the most important things a group can offer, a challenge of who is having it harder – or who is hurting more because of the way they lost their loved one – is not.
There are a lot of grief articles out there that discuss the difficulties of caregiving or losing a loved one to long term illness like cancer, and while this writing will not answer the question of what’s harder it will ask…is it different? And the answer is: absolutely.

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Grief Roadblocks & How to Let Go of Tough Emotions

shutterstock_222258445When we lose someone we love, we expect to feel sad. Even years before their passing if we took a moment to contemplate what life would be like without them, we could have correctly predicted the sadness and heartache their absence would bring. The reality of grief, however, is so much more complex, and filled with so many tough emotions and “grief roadblocks” that even the most astute could never foresee.

A “grief roadblock” refers to any of the tough and complicated emotions that stand in the way of our path to healthy grieving. These emotions- like anger, guilt and regret- are very often responsible for leaving a person in a grief limbo and halting their ability to move forward.

While anger, guilt and regret are very different emotions, what it takes to move through and push past them is actually quite similar.

Before discussing how to cope with grief roadblocks, it’s worth mentioning that all of this is very “normal”. Not normal for you maybe, and certainly not pleasant, or comfortable. But getting “stuck” at some point along the grief journey is very common and very much to be expected. These emotions will manifest themselves differently for everyone, but here are some examples of what blocks the griever:

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