20th April 2022
When someone close to you dies, there are a number of things that you are told you must do, such as stay close to loved ones, cry, or talk about one’s feelings. There are also many things we are told to not do. These prescriptive remarks you hear from time to time ignore one of the most important lessons I give as a bereavement counsellor in Harrogate and online: that there is no right way to grieve, and that everyone is different in how they grieve.
For some people, it may be that certain ways of behaving are part of their wider journey towards healing. They might not seem helpful at the time, but there is always a good reason for the behaviour people exhibit in response to grief. Even if it doesn’t seem exactly ‘healthy’, it may be an important stepping stone towards greater compassion and peace. We should always give people in this situation our support, rather than advise them against doing certain things. Here are three examples of behaviours that, although seemingly not helpful, can actually be rather salutary for someone who is grieving.
There is often pressure on grieving people to ‘surround themselves’ with other loved ones and not spend too much time with their own thoughts. And while this is true with many people, others may feel overwhelmed by being around people – especially when they insist on giving unhelpful platitudes or pieces of advice. Sometimes the most comforting thing for a bereaved person is to not talk at all, about anything, to anyone. Of course, we should check in once in a while, but never encourage someone who is grieving to be social or talk if they don’t actually want to.
Keeping Yourself Busy
Some people may accept that now isn’t the right time for them to grieve. It could be that they are extremely busy with work or family and feel much more comfortable focusing on these everyday tasks, as opposed to wallowing in their grief. You might say that this equates to suppression, which has its own well-documented dangers, but nor should someone be obligated to grieve if they would rather get on with their lives. This is particularly the case with people who have busy schedules. They will, of course, have to confront their grief at some stage, but for now it may not be the best thing.
Taking Up a New Hobby
It could be that a person who is grieving feels best when they are fixated on a particular activity of some kind. Something quite random and unexpected might give them enormous comfort without them even really knowing why. It could be literally anything, from video games to collecting rocks to learning a new instrument, and if it makes that person feel better, we should support them. In times of grief, we need an emotional crutch of some kind. We can’t rely on it forever, of course, but nor can we ignore its short-term value.
Have you recently suffered a loss? Do you feel like you’d benefit from speaking to someone about your feelings? If so, I am here to lend a helping hand through friendly, confidential bereavement counselling in Harrogate or online. Feel free to give me a call to ask any questions.