If you have a grieving friend, today I am asking you to give them permission to feel. Give them the space and the freedom to experience and express all of the ugliness of loss. Sit with them in their discomfort. Offer nothing more than your silent presence while they reel from wave after wave of grief.
We are living in a society that demands so much.
But nothing seems to be required of us more consistently than a smile on your face and an upbeat demeanor.
And when you are a bereaved individual, neither of those attributes rank very highly on your list of things you feel like doing.
Let them know that it is okay to feel every ounce of their emotions.
Because that is how we heal.
Approaching someone who is hurting and using common distancing phrases like “you’re going to be okay” and “it could be worse” serve no purpose other than to save yourself from their pain.
It immediately invalidates what the grieving person is feeling. It immediately signals that their emotions are causing discomfort and that they need to gain composure for the sake of the other parties present.
This is highly detrimental to the recovery process. For every step forward that was taken, a slammed door in their emotional face elicits five steps back.
The give and take of expressing our feelings becomes a game of “only give out happy vibes, silently take the sadness and anger and fear and pain”. And it really needs to end.
As bereaved individuals, we should not be shamed into suffering in silence. We should be encouraged to visit the depths of our love. We should have people by our side as we walk through the desolate valleys of grief.
As human beings, we crave connection. As grieving souls, our strongest connection is to other individuals willing to experience our pain with us instead of attempting to dampen it.
It’s true, things could always be worse and everything WILL be okay. But neither these nor other similar phrases serve any other purpose than informing the broken hearted that they are experiencing their grief incorrectly.
We are suffering enough without the outside influence telling us to cheer up.
So please, I implore you, give your grieving friend permission to feel.
You might have to sit through some discomfort, but I promise you won’t be disappointed with the end result.