28 December 2011

Grief: The Aggrieved & Their friends

People act oddly when others are grieving. Some personality types want to fix things, remove the offense so their friend will cheer up. Others avoid the aggrieved, possibly feeling ineffectual and frustrated. Some cannot empathise at all and others say really stupid things.

I like what Stephen Marsh has written about Job's friends.

Doesn't everyone know that when you have grief or sorrow, what your life really needs is someone to shout at you?

Of course what they are really doing is trying to make sense of Job's problems. They want:
  1. The universe to make sense.
  2. The universe to make sense in a way that assures them that they are innoculated or protected against bad things happening to them.
  3. Job to get over it so he is not a cloud in their lives.
  4. To "help" without actually having to do anything.
Helping a friend in grief is not easy.
Trying to make sense of and understand is challenging for them, let alone for those who are step or two removed. Sometimes it is good to ask your friend how you can help. They may not know, but at least voicing your desire and accompanying ignorance will allow for better communication and lowered expectations.

Oh, and there's no quick fix for grief.
It's different for everyone, it cycles around over time. Two to three years down the road, a parent who has lost a child may still regularly feel the loss acutely. While life must go on, especially if there are other children, it'll never be the same. Never.

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