Everyone experiences loss in their lives. Many people lose jobs unexpectedly, homes, good health, etc. But some lose their best friends, their families, even their children. Parents have been known to sell their homes at a loss just to get away from daily passing by the accident scene where their teenager crashed their car into a tree and died. Rather than be crippled with grief reliving the details of their child’s death over and over, they need to get away. Thus begins their financial downward spiral, perhaps turning on each other, even developing dependence on drugs and/or alcohol to numb the pain, “stuck” in their grief.
Grief and how each person handles loss, is as individualized as our personalities and life experiences, but there are some basics to learn, to help us if we are in a situation where comforting another soul is needed. Search “Stages of Grief” and you will find countless resources. Here are the basic 5 Stages of Grief based on the teachings of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler I find the easiest to understand:
Anniversaries, birthdays, holidays and otherwise small events can trigger a large emotional reaction. If someone lost a child last year, they probably had to remove that child’s name from their taxes when reporting dependents. That may seem like a small detail, but really think about it. It is final. Erasing that name may symbolize erasing that sweet life–devastating for a parent. Take the time to determine where a person may be in their Stage of Grief so you can respond most effectively. The most difficult loss for most is loss of a loved one.
There is a Facebook page Graceful Grieving. The link that follows is that site’s official song, “Crippled Bird.” Please listen. I also promote an organization called The Compassionate Friends Network. They have resource materials that will help you to help others through the grieving process, as well as provide connections that can bond people together in empathic discussion. It was through my fundraising efforts for CFN that I learned how to deal with my own misery.
We often interact with the grieving. Sometimes people simply need permission to feel the way they feel so they can move on. Taking 15 minutes to hear another’s story can jumpstart an evolution of a lifetime filled with pain toward acceptance, forgiveness and peace. We don’t all have to swoop in, capes flying behind us, taking down a purse-snatcher, to be heroic. Heroism (to me) is freely giving something ultimately precious to you, especially when it’s not easy. What is more precious than time? Listening, a simple touch or pat on the shoulder, looking someone in the eye and nodding, hearing their painful experience and compassionately feeling it with them are some of the most heroic acts any one human being can give or share with another. Research, train yourself, and prepare if this is something you think you can, and should, do. The world needs many types of heroes.
It might make you uncomfortable to counsel someone or hear their story, but consider those who most affected your life and how they did so. Then consider these great words by Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” Touch some hearts out there heroes, and save some lives! Keep the ripples of compassion flowing until they become huge waves of love that carry us all to better place.
The Official Song for Graceful Grieving, Inc.
“Crippled Bird” Written by Dolly Parton
Used by Permission Velvet Apple Music © 1995