June 16, 2021
Grief is messy and complicated, as well as downright uncomfortable to sit in.
The tendency to want to avoid the pain associated with grief is human and understandable. At the same time, doing so can create a situation in which the grieving person feels unseen and not validated along her/his journey.
One of the first ideas I like to address as I interact with grieving hearts, as well as those supporting those who grieve, is naming the reality that an understanding of grief can never be assumed. We live in a pain- and death-avoidant society, so much so that addressing death and dying — both inevitable processes — seems unreasonable.
While unclear what the exact prevalence of grief is in America, the vast majority of individuals have experienced grief. In other words, the impact of grief can’t be underestimated. Therefore, the likelihood of walking alongside someone who’s experienced loss is high in one’s lifetime.
Let’s start with unpacking the word ‘community.’
One of my favorite definitions of community, from the Together Institute, is “a group of people that care about each other and feel they belong together” (https://medium.com/together-institute/what-does-community-even-mean-a-definition-attempt-conversation-starter-9b443fc523d0). Inherent in the concept of community is a sense of belongingness to one another.
At this point, you might be saying, ‘We belong together, but …’
Each of these questions makes perfect sense.
It’s important to dismantle each one, however, as they sometimes prevent loving family and friends from actually showing up in a grieving person’s time of need.
First, there is no right thing to say when someone dies. I’ve learned over the years, both in professional situations, as well as personal ones, that one’s presence (beyond knowing what to say) is incredibly powerful. Second, you will make mistakes as you support a grieving friend. Why? Because you’re human, plain and simple. Third, grief is not a condition that needs ‘fixing;’ rather, it’s one that should be freely and openly witnessed. Finally, you can help; and while one’s processing of grief can shift over time, time alone doesn’t heal a grieving heart.
I’d like to offer a six-part framework that I created to do just that, the GRIEVE Framework.
The most important thing, however, is that you do.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to share them below.
Learn more about managing your lifestyle, love, leadership, and loyalties to God, self, and others by clicking here: https://mekelharrisphd.com/.