Why Can’t People Understand?

Everyone goes through grief. Everyone. At some point in your life, someone is going to die. That is the circle of life. When we go through it, some of us look for books, blogs, podcasts to help us to manage our lives through it. I would imagine that the number of people looking to help a friend or co-worker through their grief by looking for books, blogs, podcasts is much lower.

In general, I don’t think people want to get too close to grief. And the loss of a child, like in my life, is just too horrible to get near. People start make wide circles around you when this happens. The topics of conversation are unnecessarily light and frivolous. You can feel their waiting, waiting for you to get back to normal.

“my eyes are dim with grief. I call to you, LORD, every day; I spread out my hands to you.” Psalm 88:9

Maybe they don’t understand that Normal will never again be for me. Those of us going through loss are fiercely trying to grab onto the new normal. Maybe they don’t understand that we want to be that same old person again, but we can’t be. We are forever changed.

As you would imagine, I’ve found that friends are much better at giving me room to move than co-workers with their downcast eyes and wary tones. When I was working and battling PTSD, I begged my company to do some sort of Grief Counseling with my peers. At one point, I called each of my peers and explained my PTSD. This was so difficult- I felt too vulnerable- but I needed them to understand that there were triggers in our daily work lives that caused me to break down. I desperately needed them to understand. I wanted them to know that more than anything I wished I didn’t have to deal with this.

It didn’t work, I think they thought I was crazy or something. And my husband and daughters were so distraught about my calling them all. “No one should ever have to do that!” my husband said.
He’s right. And since we all go through grief, why isn’t there some sort of program that companies and businesses use to make grief easier on both the grieving and the co-workers around them? Of course, there are probably many programs like this, but I have personally never heard of this being done as a natural reaction to someone in a company grieving. Maybe in extreme cases?

I’m not saying that when my son died that my colleagues were unresponsive. When my grief was “fresh” they certainly gave me heartfelt condolences. It was the after effects that they didn’t understand. The lingering traps and triggers, the depression, the inability to think clearly anymore. It’s natural for those around us to think that when we grieve, that tragedy happens, we go though it and then we get over it. But it doesn’t work that way with everyone.

Grief is a very personal thing and it manifests itself differently in every person.

I guess my plea is that when someone in your work group is grieving, understand that there are after effects that may continue on for months or years. They may not be as good at their job as they used to be. They may breakdown at odd times. They may say things that don’t sound appropriate or “right.” That maybe the best thing you can do is just say, “Is there anything I can do to help you in your job now, because I know you are going through a rough time. Don’t talk behind their back and speculate whether they are going to “make it.” Just ask what you can do to help.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

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