As I wrote this, it was late and the house was quiet. Only hours before, my children and I had celebrated my husband’s life and said our final goodbyes. Mindlessly scrolling through facebook … a diversion of sorts, I came across a well meaning message that prompted the post that follows.
Dear Casual Acquaintance,
Grief is a funny thing. Not laugh out loud funny – more odd funny. And like dealing with pregnancy, raising children, training dogs, painting houses and any number of other things, we all have our own way of doing it.
When we find something that works for us we want to share it with everyone. It’s a natural instinct that comes from a well meaning place. I know I’ve probably done the same thing. So I understand where you are coming from.
But it’s here I’m going to ask you to pause and think for a moment before you do it again. As there are a few things we need to keep in mind when broaching such a sensitive subject.
- Do you know the person you are sharing your thoughts with well?
- Are they a family member or friend. Or are they simply an acquaintance?
- Have you been to each other’s home to visit, or caught up lately for a cuppa and a chat?
- Have they asked for your input, directly?
If you have said yes to all – proceed with sharing your opinions cautiously.
If you have said no to any – stop now. There is every chance you don’t understand the situation well enough to give advice, as well meaning as it is, and you maybe stepping over the mark.
Also keep in mind that your timing can be crucial. The night of someone’s loved one’s farewell service is not good timing under any circumstance.
We all get gut feelings about things, and might find ourselves thinking constantly about an issue until we speak up about it. If you have a strong urge to let someone dealing with loss or grief benefit from your experience or advice, I would suggest that what you do first – is write your thoughts down and file them for safekeeping for awhile. Just to get them off your chest.
Each of us grieve differently, there is no right or wrong way to do it, but we all have to do it in our own way and our own time if we want to get through it.
So to you, the lovely acquaintance who messaged me, thank you for your support and concern, but I didn’t quite understand what you were saying. I’m guessing something got lost in translation, which is why these conversations are probably best had face to face.
There is a cautionary tale here, for me at least, as on reflection I too at times may have been the sharer of wisdom not asked for. I will be more careful of that in the future.
Hope is limitless.