In life, the most unfortunate concept to grasp is that death is inevitable. Very few of us have yet to experience the loss of either a loved one or someone we knew and cared for. Up until two weeks ago, the pain and grief of losing someone close to me in my life had not yet affected me. What I have realized is that you really cannot fully understand what grief feels like until you lose someone that meant something to you. This person that was once living on earth, is now gone forever. Harsh, and a bit dark, I know.
The reality that you will never see their face or give them a hug or have a conversation with them is unbearable. I think this is initially the hardest part of coping with a death. You miss them. This is unfair. Why them? Why now? All of these questions and frustrations and sadness flow every which way in your mind, and you wonder if you will ever be okay again. The fact that their physical being is no longer here is incredibly difficult to come to terms with. Sadly, some people never do. One of our duties as humans is to console others, so during times of sadness and grief, we need to make sure we are there for our friends and family 100%.
But everybody grieves differently. For instance, I am a vocal and “feely” person, meaning when something happens in my life, I need to feel all the emotions that come along with it in order to process things. A good cry and a long talk with a close friend or a therapist is the best way for me to deal with something that triggers my emotions. But I have realized that not everyone is the same way. Some people may use work or travel as an escape from grieving or an outlet to keep their mind off things. Others may keep their emotions internal and may have trouble opening up and communicating how they are feeling.
Some people establish bad habits such as gambling or excessive spending. Some even resort to recreational drugs and alcohol as a way to escape from reality altogether, which is something I do not recommend. As humans, when we see someone who is grieving, first and foremost it is crucial to let the person know that we are there for them. Even if the person isn’t the type to reach out or be open about their feelings, just having the comfort of knowing you are there for them means more than you could imagine.
It is important to note that your words may be temporarily comforting to this person but unfortunately; there is nothing you can say to make things better. I have found that it is best to simply sit and listen. Even if they don’t say much, a comforting silence means so much more than awkwardly forcing a conversation. They are processing their emotions just as much as you are, so instead of trying to come up with inspirational words to cure them of their sadness, offer a hand to hold or a shoulder to lie on.
Death is the hardest thing we experience in life. It is imperative to be there for each other during these sad times, no matter how difficult or uncomfortable it may be. “Grief never ends…but it changes. It’s a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith… It is the price of love.”