Grief Support Online: An Invitation

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Surely one of the most painful aspects of losing a loved one to death is that somehow, on top of all our grief, we must tolerate all the insensitive comments and empty platitudes we may hear from friends, relatives and others who think that they are helping us. If they don’t know what to say, they may talk about the weather or some other mundane topic – anything except to discover how we’re doing and how we are coping. Those who are unable to face us may avoid us altogether, as if we no longer exist for them.

Sometimes people say things out of ignorance and inexperience, and we are left feeling angry, frustrated, disgusted and hurt. Stunned with shock and disbelief, we think to ourselves, “How could they say such an awful thing? Don’t they know how much it hurts?” The answer is simply that No, they don’t know, because they haven’t been where we are and they haven’t walked in our shoes.

We cannot control the words and actions of others, but we can control where we turn for comfort and support. We can choose to seek out and be among the most supportive people we can find. One advantage of coming to an online grief discussion group such as the one I moderate (Grief Healing Discussion Groups) is that you will find yourself among people who do know how much it hurts, because we all are hurting, too. In this place of understanding, caring and support, you are among others who are on the same journey, walking along the same path, grieving losses of our own and trying to find our own way.

What we say to one another in our grief forums is this: We are here, all the time. We care. We want to learn more of what you think and what you are experiencing. We will listen as you talk about your loved one. We will cry with you in your sorrow and laugh with you as you recall the good memories. We won’t mind how long you stay or how long you need to be here. We won’t tell you to hurry up, to get a grip and pull yourself together, to let go and get on with your life.

When you don't know where to turn or what to do with yourself, know this: We will be here for you just as you will be here for us, as we all do what we can to help each other bear our grief and ease our collective burdens.

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© by Marty Tousley, RN, MS, FT, DCC

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