Sometimes we don’t have time during the work day to get to the important things. . .
I had a friend ask me about grief and co-workers and then the phone rang so I didn’t get to answer her.
I have to say, as an aside, that I love being the go-to-person for grief. Yes, if you have read this blog, you know it is a passion of mine.
But anyway, this is kind of how it started off. . .
“So Jen Jen (note: don’t ever call me Jen Jen . . . this one person is the ONLY person in the world that it’s okay from because the alternative was worse), I wanna ask you about grief. . . I’ve sent emails, left cards, said something in person. . . but what’s the best thing to do? I don’t want to make someone cry at work. . . Personally, I hate crying and I don’t want anyone to feel bad. . . what should I do?”
I thought it was a great question, minus the Jen Jen…. but that’s another post. LOL
So seriously. . . what do you do?
Here is my answer to this situation:
We don’t make anyone cry. We don’t cause anyone to be bereaved.
We hurt no one by letting them know we care.
We can invite someone to get in touch with their grief, if they choose.
What most people don’t get is that the bereft are, please pardon the pun, “dying to tell their story”.
They want to hear that person’s name.
They want to share.
Well, most do.
There are some who are shut off or shut down and they will let you know.
But what I have learned over the years through others and through my own journey, is that people want to share their stories.
Think about wearing your pink ribbon or your Livestrong bracelet. They beg for dialogue.
Still don’t believe it? Google grief or look around on WordPress. . . there are at least a dozen blogs of people sharing their stories of loss and healing and struggle. . .
When I was in TN, I wore my red ribbon every day. I had no problem telling strangers that my brother died of AIDS. Or that I had worked with AIDS patients.
Did you have a mom or a favorite aunt die of breast cancer? Is that why you wear your pink ribbon? Do you share her story or your story with her?
We want to connect.
We want to remember. We often feel broken. . . we want to be re-membered. . .
We are in touch with that person, engaging their “spirit” and that very noble part of us that is not bereft but it and will always be connected with the person who died.
So in the workplace, let someone know you care. It’s okay. I don’t know of anyone who has ever been upset that someone showed a little kindness at work. . . and in some workplaces, it might be the only kindness that if offered.
If you are unsure, be discreet. You don’t have to do it at the water cooler or in the middle of a staff meeting, but you can stop by someone’s cubicle or office.
Let them know if you are open to talking. Be prepared to listen and not share your own stories; early grief usually dictates that it is their story that is important and again, if they are like most of us, their story is on their mind.
They may be foggy or scattered and even if they like you and care about you, they may be “full” and can’t really attend to you or your feelings/story.
So let them know if they can email or call you outside work. Let them know that you are open for coffee, if they are interested. But don’t if it is only politeness. If you put it out there, expect that they will take you up, even if they don’t.
What I have never found to be helpful?
Ignoring the loss.
Telling someone you know just how they feel.
Going into a running dialogue about your own losses.
Telling them that the person who died is better off. . . even if you believe that. . .because (and I have to be frank here… ) most people would gladly have the person back in bad condition than to be without them. It seems counter intuitive, but it’s true.
Don’t tell them that time will heal. We want it better right now or we want the person back. Heck, we want both, right now.
I will never forget pulling out of the gas station, my first day back from driving to work after my mentor died. I think I said, out loud in the car, “what’s wrong with these people? Don’t they get that the most important person on the planet is gone?” Unfortunately, 10 days later, the world was right there with me, as we sat in horror . . . watching the twin towers implode.
That week, I knew that people got how I was feeling. I didn’t know anyone who was not touched some how and it made my own loss a bit more bearable that the whole world was grieving and at the same time, it didn’t matter.
We are forever touched by the people who come into our lives. . . even if I never meet Ben over at http://bennaga.wordpress.com/ but his poetry often moves me or Wendy at http://meaningfulwesternlife.com/ whose blog reminds me of the benefits of MBSR , Lou over at http://talesfromthelou.wordpress.com/ who is a warrior for telling the truth no matter what, or Marty http://ptsdawayout.com/ who shares everything he knows about mindfulness who healing hearts and brains of people with PTSD, or William at http://fiercebuddhist.org/ who inspires me to try my hand at haiku or http://mindmindful.wordpress.com/ where I find a little different perspective on all things mindful, but my life has been touched by their blogs, by their kindness, by them showing me the ropes and answering my questions. I would be sad if I could not check in with their daily tales and insights.
And yet these are people who I do not know. People who have not broken bread with me, shared sorrows and joys. But I want to share their work with you.
Can you imagine how much I want to share the wise words of my former mentor or the love that I have for my grandfather or brother?
So if you still have any doubts about offering condolences, ask yourself, if someone I cared about was gone, what would I want? (Remember when Seinfeld or Friends went off the air? You wanted to talk about it, right?… )
What would you yearning for when you were without a person that you loved dearly?
Hopefully that answer will sink deeper than my words.
- When Grief Has You (namasteconsultinginc.com)
- Grief Theories (namasteconsultinginc.com)
- Stop All the Self Help and Start Self Care (namasteconsultinginc.com)
- Q & A: Still Grieving??? (namasteconsultinginc.com)
- Expanding Our View of Grief (my.psychologytoday.com)
- Grief (valleyroadrambler.wordpress.com)
- Grief/Love (kylemew.com)
- Mirrored grief (carolinatexan.wordpress.com)
- Walking through Grief – Part 1 (thedailysisterhood.wordpress.com)
- Given a choice between grief and nothing – - (texasgaga.wordpress.com)
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