There is a word I use all the time that scares people. I wish I could say it right now, but I’m afraid that if I even hint at it you will run away. I know, because I’ve seen people freak out when I say it. I watch them turn pale and get those deer-in-the-headlight eyes. I can see that they’re looking for an escape route. But I have to say it, so here goes. Stay calm and keep reading. It’s not nearly as scary as you think.
There, I said it. Still here? How are you feeling? Heart beating a little faster? Don’t worry, it will calm down again.
So what’s the big deal about grief that freaks people out? We usually associate grief with death, but it’s actually a normal and natural reaction to loss. And we have all kinds of losses in our lives, not just the death of someone.
So why is grief so scary?
Maybe because it’s painful. It reminds us of our own mortality, or our own divorce, or our own unfulfilled dreams of a successful career.
Or maybe, just maybe, it’s scary because we’ve been taught all kinds of bogus ideas about grief. We are taught things like you can’t talk about grief. We refer to it in hushed terms. When I ask people about their childhood and how their family handled the death of a loved one, they almost always say they didn’t handle it. You went to the wake. You went to the funeral. And then you didn’t talk about it again.
We don’t know how to respond when things change in our lives. We’re taught to take it deep inside of ourselves, to be private with our feelings, to be stoic. Crying makes people uncomfortable.
I’m going to be talking about the grief myths in an upcoming post, and about all the types of losses we can go through in our lives. The whole point of this is to strip the word of it’s scariness. We experience loss. We grieve. And we can recover from that grief. We’ll be talking about how…
Question: How did your family deal with death and grief? What did they teach you about grieving?