“While grief is fresh, every attempt to divert it only irritates.”
~Dr. Samuel Johnson
~Dr. Samuel Johnson
The loss of a loved one is inevitable as your life progresses. But, grief does not just have to come from the death of a person. Grief could come from a mistake, the loss of a friendship, or numerous other things. But, surrounding that situation is the way people react to it, and you.
There are two ways most people react to grief, in my opinion. They withdraw from people, or run to people. And the response from those people shape parts of our grieving process. What I cannot stand is when people brush off the situation and refuse to show support. I have had friends who ignored me for an entire day, because something major happened in my life and they didn't want to be around sad people. They didn't even try to divert my pain; they just ignored it. I've seen people change topics, because surely the remaining family members don't want to remember their loss. When in reality, they are the ones who feel uncomfortable.
Genuine love and concern is lacking. I know I have failed to show concern and sympathy to loved ones when they are hurting. One prime example would be my sister. She had a hamster. To all you rodent lovers, you would have loved this energetic, crazy member of the mouse family. I, on the other hand, did NOT like it. So, one day my sister is just crying and crying, and I ask what happened. She said that her hamster died. Trying to show concern, I asked if she was sure and how did she know. She replied yes and pantomimed him lying on his back. I'm sorry, its awful, but I started laughing. I was sorry for her and wanted to show my support, but the pantomime was really funny. And she was not happy with me. At all. This proved Dr. Johnson right by my irritating diversion.
I like to think that I can be sympathetic, though. Just listening can be as good, if not better, then giving advice. When you start trying to distract the person from their feelings, that's when you lose your place as someone they will turn to. I have stopped telling people about important things in my life because they didn't seem to care. They probably did care, but they either wouldn't show it or tried to downplay my feelings on the matter.
The people I look back on with fondness are the ones who just let me cry or let me discuss what was going on. I played basketball in high school. We had a very important game and I fouled a girl with less than 20 seconds left in the game. This caused them to win with the two free throws from my foul. We lost the game because of my mistake. I was very upset, upset meaning angry and sad put together. I lost it and just sat in the locker room. One of my closest friends came into the locker room and just sat there with her hand on my shoulder while I got a grip. She didn't try to assuage my guilt, confront my anger, or mock my tears. She just sat. I have remembered that moment for several years because she didn't try to fix it. She didn't try to 'divert' my grief.
I think that true sympathy is needed when around grief. Think of the other person's feelings over your discomfort. Otherwise, your diversions might backfire and have their estimation of you lowered. Just being there is enough.