Reacting to someone else’s loss.

So there will come a time in everyone’s life where a friend, or partner will lose someone close to them – this article doesn’t just relate to people passing away, it’s possible to grieve for the loss of someone who’s still alive, just not a part of our lives anymore.

Whether that’s a parent, sibling, other half, close friend, grandparent, anyone.

One of the most important things that was said to me just after my father passed away was by my friend’s father. He said to me:

“You’ll get two types of people, you’ll get the ones who’ll be there for you regardless and then there are the ones who cross the road to avoid you. Not because they don’t care, but because they don’t know what to say.”

This became one of the most pinnacle things to be said to me in that time.

During the organising of the funeral, all the usual bits and pieces that happen after someone’s passed away, you are in this odd limbo where you don’t really know how to be. But then there are so many processes and things to organise – death certificates, funeral proceedings, the wake, notifying people etc etc that you don’t really have time to feel.

This is when people make their primary mistake, they are there for you almost too much in this time and then forget that you will need them for a long time after this, not just for the hectic initial reaction.

This may not be the case with some, so my disclaimer here is that this is based on my experience.

I recently gave advice to someone on how to cope with being there for someone else going through a loss.

We are rarely told quite how difficult this will be. Because there’s that awful time where you need to balance being caring and supportive, but also still treating that person as the same person they were before. Hanging on to some form of stability and normalisation is what keeps people going here.

Another pinnacle phrase said to me was that no one will truly grieve properly until 2 years after a passing. I personally have found this to be true, it’s not that I didn’t deal with anything, but in the most cliché way possible – it all takes time. It’s been three and a half years now since my Daddy passed away and I feel oddly okay about it. I still miss him, but unfortunately he is no longer a part of my life now – he will always be there in my thoughts and my heart but I have learnt to live life again.

That’s something you never think you will do, but I promise, it’s possible.

Anyway, the reason I’m writing this is because I have seen this happen time and time again, and until it’s pointed out, people don’t really know how to deal with it.

What thing am I talking about?

The fact that after the funeral, and everything (excuse the pun) dies down, the world expects you to get back to reality again.

It’s hard. It’s nigh on impossible, because life will never be the same again.

This article isn’t to highlight that to people grieving because they already know it, however like I’ve stated, it’s about awareness for those supporting you through it.

The time when people need you the most, isn’t the initial aftermath, it’s the first birthdays without them, the first Christmas’.

It’s that first time you go to call them because you’ve forgotten they aren’t here anymore and you had something cool to tell them.

It’s that time you scroll through your phone and still see their number, you know it probably belongs to someone else now, but you don’t want to delete it.

It’s wondering what they would have been like with your children.

Not knowing their proud face when you graduate.

And most of all for me, it’s not having him there to walk me down the aisle at my wedding.

All of these points might seem obvious, but society, and sometimes my own pressures, makes me feel like I should just “get over it” and get on.

The hardest part of loss is seeing the world slip back to it’s routine, seeing everyone else go back to their families, their jobs, their social lives. And when they may have had a sad time with you initially, the situation you personally are in impacts you 1000000 times more than anyone else.

You find yourself feeling bored of talking to people about it, desperate for some comfort, but not wanting to ask for it.

So the point of this is, if you are in a position where you are there for a friend, other half, family member etc, don’t stop being there.

You don’t have to do anything in particular, just make sure you aren’t absent from listening, even 2-3 years later. Keep listening, keep talking about them and keeping their name alive.

Most people find it hard to say they aren’t coping well with something that may have happened to them three years prior.

Some days I’ll find myself to be painfully sad, and even I won’t want to tell people it’s because I’m sad about my Dad. It wouldn’t be wrong, but there’s so much of me that wants to be able to cope and wants to be okay. And like I said, I am generally okay now, but there will always be a minute, and hour, a day here and there – anniversaries, birthdays, significant moments.

So be there for your person in need. Tell them you love them, keep them afloat, let them be sad for as long as they need and just remember – never cross the road to avoid them


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