It wasn’t until about 10 years later that I had another grievous time missing my dad. I didn’t expect to have that kind of meltdown but that’s the way grief is. It sneaks up on you at times you least expect it. Being unprepared is like you’ve walked the hallway of your home, stumbled across an object and have no idea how it got there or where to put it. The options are: hold it, toss it back on the floor, or designate it to the junk drawer. All of those options present problems though. If you hold it, even if the object is only as small as a paper clip, eventually your hand will become so tired you could end up with hand function problems. If you toss it back on the floor eventually you are just going to stumble across it again and if you put it in the junk drawer ….well… everyone knows about the junk drawer. So, Whom do we feel safe enough to share our grief with? So, how do we appropriately deal with the unexpected when we just don’t know what to do? Where do we put that kind of grief? For me it has been in writing and music.
Ways to handle grief will be different for each person but to help you in the process, consider how another person may be able to help.
Consider the following:
1. Who can you trust enough to allow you to honor your grief? Friends? Family members? A co-worker? A grief counselor? A support group? This will be important to identify and accept. I say accept because people close to you may not be the best at allowing your grief. It’s not because they don’t mean well but not everyone is equipped to handle the full range of grief you inevitably will experience.
2. Will you learn to say this phrase? “Will you please hold this for me?” This isn’t really what you would necessarily say, but it serves as a symbol of the dilemma of trying to find a place for the newly found household object and articulating your need to ask for help. By asking for help, this allows others to help you while you figure out the best ways to honor your grief.
One last question…. and this one is for those who have friends or family members who are grieving.
3. Will you answer your friend when they’ve asked for help? It’s not that simple, I know. Some people never ask for help and many of us aren’t clued in to people’s needs or to the subtle ways people might ask. Some people are only comfortable showing the emotions of anger and bitterness. Becoming vulnerable may not be something they have yet made room for in their lives. Others are full of anxiety or may exhibit behaviors they didn’t before. Some may become completely disenchanted with any type of organization or group, whether it’s religious, educational, community, job-related, etc. The reality is your friend may likely be searching for a place to rest from carrying their grief. The Apostle Paul instructs the Galatian church through a letter to become a shoulder to each other when carrying burdens. The text reads, “Bear one another’s burdens…” and that directive serves as a principle with just as much importance today as it did then because no one was meant to carry burdens all by themselves.
Questions open for comments: In what ways have you been successful asking for help with your grief?