Grieving is one of the hardest things to do. Whether we are grieving the loss of a loved one , the loss of a relationship, or a job, the sense of pain and helplessness can be debilitating.
Sometimes, in our desire to support those who are suffering, we try to encourage them to move on. As well intentioned as this may be, is not always the most compassionate response. Telling someone to move on may feel to them as though we do not really understand how difficult is for them to do just that.
It is so important to acknowledge the pain they are experiencing in the moment. If we dismiss the pain, and focus on the future, the pain cannot be released. The individual must try to stuff it down. Encouraging them to express the depth of their pain allows for it to be released.
The amount of time that it takes for an individual to release enough pain to be able to move on varies from person to person. It may seem as though a person is stuck, when really they are slowly moving their way through massive amounts of suffering. If a person is one who feels things very deeply, it will definitely take longer.
There are times though, when we may truly be concerned for one who seems to have completely stopped living following a crisis. If they have lost a loved one, a job, a relationship or their health, then their life, as they knew it, seems shattered. They seem to have stopped living, because they have to figure out how to live, now that an important dimension of their life has changed.
They cannot do that right away; first, they need time to grieve. At first, they might not even want to think about how life will go on. In fact, part of the problem is that there is a void whenever they try to envision life without that important component.
When we lose something or someone important, it is not simply the pain in the present moment with which we must deal. We have to somehow undo the vision we had of a complete life, which included the lost part.
We must disassemble the life we had planned, and somehow imagine a new one. Only now, in the face of loss, there is little desire to do so. Each time we try to climb up the hill to move on, we find ourselves sliding back into the grief. This is a natural process.
If a person seems like they want to talk about their grief, the best thing we can do is to just listen with a sympathetic ear. The fact that they are talking about their pain is a good thing.
The time to start worrying is when they withdraw from everything and everyone. Grief has turned into depression . It is time for professional help. If they are not at that point, then the best thing is to let them talk. It helps in some small way if another seems to care about how difficult it is for you.
And no matter how true it might be, do not say, “Life goes on.” Eventually they will see the truth of that, but until then, the thought of life moving on regardless of their loss seems more like salt on the wound.
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