I think one of the most uncomfortable human interactions happens around death. I was 21 when my dad died and I remember having friends in college who never acknowledged his death. Even though I was gone from school for over a week, when I returned, it was like, nothing happened. I remember feeling extremely uncomfortable and really surprised that the simple phrase of, “I’m sorry for the loss of your dad,” was not said. (Note: I also had many friends who were active and supportive.)
At that time, I also remember trying to “be strong.” I went through the funeral process, holding it together the best I could, and “being there” for other people. I think this is a common trait for grievers. The irony of the situation is that you just lost someone you love and you’re highly vulnerable, yet you’re now front and center hosting a funeral and post-luncheon for hundreds of people.
I like this article in the Huffington Post by John Tsilimparis, Grief and Loss: Tips on how we can help those affected. It has good reminders and reinforcements for grievers and their supporters. If you have a friend that is grieving, lend your support and acknowledge their pain. Just by saying, “I don’t know what to say, except, I’m sorry for your loss,” that’s acknowledgement enough. And, if you’re the one grieving, allow it and take the time to listen to your heart and care of yourself. Fuel up.