When Someone Dies . . .
Don’t worry. No one close to me has died recently. At least, I don’t think they have. *ponders*
This subject is an important one, because it affects all kinds of people – NTs and everybody else (I decided not to limit it to any titles, since I was sure that I’d inadvertently leave someone out for sure). Ever hear someone talk about not knowing what to say to a person who is grieving the death of someone close to them?
I’m in a Grief and Bereavement class that meets for 3 hours every Tuesday evening. Regardless to say, Tuesday evenings are not the most upbeat days of my week. However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t learn a great deal during them. But it’s like the kind of learning that wakes you up at 3:30 am with the thought, “Now what did she mean by that?” It’s 6 am right now. I’ve been up since 4 am. You do the math.
Anyways, regarding the subject of not knowing what to say, my class this past Tuesday evening (i.e. last night) focused on that very topic. My teacher said something that stuck with me; perhaps because she kept saying it over and over in different ways, possibly in an effort to make sure that we did not forget it.
The worst thing to experience while grieving is loneliness. The absolute worst. It’s not bad enough that you’re already surrounded by a wall of your own grief and shock and numbness, but then to have people avoid talking to you because of your feelings? It’s a no win situation that can lead sometimes to people getting stuck in their grief, unable to move on. Now, that’s not the only reason people get stuck, but it certainly doesn’t help any. My teacher says that at the very least, you should ask whether or not they want to be alone or not. Beyond that, it’s okay not to say anything and just be with the person in pain. Suck it up. Your discomfort is far outweighed by their pain, trust me.
And then, if you actually feel like saying something, she said something that’s pretty well commonsense, but something that doesn’t happen much regardless. What you say has to be genuinely you, and it has to come from your heart. Avoid the phrase, “I know exactly how you feel.” ‘Cause you don’t. You’re not them. Even if you’ve experienced something similar, you’re still not them. You haven’t lived their life.
As she said, the best gift that you can give them is yourself. Offer, and then offer again later on. People have gotten it into their heads that there is an average period of grief lasting around a year or so. While some do continue to grieve in that period of time before seeming to move on somewhat, other people just take longer. As those of you with developmental challenges, you of all people should know that there is no one set schedule of growth.
That said, she did say that there are a couple of areas that you want to avoid at all costs. Once again, kind of common sense, but overlooked all the same. When someone is grieving any kind of loss in general, but especially death, avoid discussing politics/spirituality. This is not the time to try and convince someone that you are right and they are wrong. Along with that, saying things like, “Don’t be sad; he’s finally at peace now,” are equally unhelpful, so says my teacher, the internationally known grief expert.
Here’s my addition to this lesson . . . if you offer to be there for someone, don’t make the offer unless you mean it.
That is all.