30. Talking About Grief

Good morning and welcome to your thirtieth meditation. Have you ever lost someone close to you, or been close to someone who has? Odds are the answer is yes. And even if you haven’t experienced loss up close yet, you will in time. Perhaps you think this is a rather grim way to start a podcast, but gloominess is not the goal here. The goal is to acknowledge that loss and death are exactly equally as common occurrences as are love and life. The more we recognize this, the more we will notice the staggering imbalance in attention given to each discrete topic. And hopefully, the more we notice that the subjects of death and loss are relatively woefully underdiscussed, the more we will feel it necessary to add to the discourse. And the more we talk about these topics, the more we normalize them, bringing them out of the obscure regions of taboo into the light where we can turn them over, examine them, and thus better prepare ourselves for our inevitable experience of them.

That’s not to say that we should walk around indiscriminately and indiscreetly talking about death and loss, or that we should insist that others do the same. These are certainly subjects that are difficult and painful to discuss for many – sometimes even impossible. Everyone grieves differently, and it would be irresponsible to suggest that anyone should do so in a prescribed way. However, the more options a grieving person has, the better: the more resources available for them to consult if they so wish; the more emotional support that is offered (if not accepted); the more opportunity to engage in conversation on the topic in a space free of stigma or judgment, the better. Even if a person who has experienced loss is unwilling or unable to engage with any of the options made available to them, it may just help to know that they are there.

So if you are in a position to offer someone who is grieving support, in any form, however small, do it. It can feel horribly uncomfortable. You may even rationalize that it is presumptuous to do so. But there is nothing presumptuous about extending an offer of support to another person who is in pain. There are better and worse ways to do it, depending on the context, sure. And often no more is required or desired than expressing your willingness to be there for them if they need you. They may not accept your offer, and that’s fine. But, by offering, you have let them know that you are not judging them, that they don’t need to feel ashamed or awkward about being sad, and that you are there to help if and when you are needed. This can make all the difference for someone in pain. So don’t try to hide from grief if you are confronted with it. The more we’re open to talking about these ideas, the less uncomfortable they will be for us to talk about, and the more supported everyone will be and feel – both the grievers and those of us who want to help them. Keep it up. You’re doing great. Have a wonderful day.

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