The loss of a loved one is tremendous. It is the greatest loss. Yet, there are other, smaller but significant losses that often follow a person in grief.
There is the common experience of a period of hibernation or withdrawal from normal social activities. But, bereavement sometimes changes our orientation to society altogether and without our permission. Widowers who used to find themselves often out with other couples may suddenly find themselves neglected. For many bereaved people company decreases or evaporates altogether.
The truth is, it is hard work to grieve and it is hard to be with grievers – not hard in the sense of impossible, but in the very real sense that loss is the most uncomfortable thing we experience. The task of navigating ever and fast-changing emotions is beyond tricky and a task that must be met with understanding for all parties involved.
There are many friendships that do not pass the test of grief and many grievers who experience an unwanted refining fire that reveals the true friendships of their life. Time and healing can revive lesser friendships, but grief has a way of laser-pointing the people who best love us.
Not all is loss …
I’ve entitled this post the “many losses of a grieving person” – and to be sure I couldn’t list them all. But I think there is also a singular, tremendous blessing in seeing with clarity where you are loved and treasured. At times it may feel like only your dog is there for you, or perhaps just a handful of friends. These ties will endure in their meaning and be tremendous sources of strength even when they are no longer the only sources.
How to navigate …
- Do not despair but have patience. You are not as alone as you think and that will become clear.
- Leave behind the relationships that no longer serve. Mourn them, but don’t torture or be tortured.
- Have boundaries. There will be helpers, wanted and some possibly unwanted. Just because someone has good intentions does not mean thoughtless remarks or actions need to be continually endured.
- Carry kindness. Hold on to this as tightly for yourself as you do for others.
Grief’s first steps are wrought with loss of unexpected kinds. Being aware of the difficulty of what you’re doing and knowing others will struggle to be in this with you can be incredibly helpful to understand. Having compassion for yourself and those walking (or crawling) along with you, will not be something you regret.