Filush-Glaze: With grief: staring isn’t caring

Published 2:17 pm Monday, May 20, 2019

By Jenny Filush-Glaze
Grief Relief

Let me go ahead and make a bold statement by saying that we’ve all been guilty of “staring” at the bereaved. Think about it — when death occurs, our first thoughts drift towards “What happened?” and then we find ourselves observing at the emotions displayed or not displayed on the faces of our friends and family. If they are openly expressing their sadness, we shake our heads and place our hands over our hearts and whisper to one another about “how terrible this all is”, and if the opposite is exact, if they present as being stoic and emotion-free, we wag our tongues and worry about what might be wrong with them because they are not visibly falling apart.

Perhaps that is one of the reasons why grieving is so hard.

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As the bereaved, we are in a constant battle within ourselves to stand firm and to face this terribly traumatic event with a straight face, and yet on the inside, we are broken and shattered, falling to pieces and yet don’t wish for anyone to see our pain.

And then comes good old society and the expectations that it has on the bereaved — some of us wish to see the utter devastation, almost as a confirmation that they are doing their duty by appropriately mourning, while others remain uncomfortable with open signs of mourning and are quick to encourage them to “stay strong” and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

The point I am trying to make is that we can attempt to be a little more gentle and a little less gawking when encountering those who have experienced loss.

One thing I know for sure is that nobody particularly enjoys being stared at, especially when they are suffering. Grief is not a special exhibit in the local zoo, and it is not something that we should mill about taking pictures of, making those facing this trauma feel as if they are on permanent display.

From kids and teens going back to school after losing a loved one, to adults returning to their places of employment or to their Church communities or to any public gathering, one of the hardest tasks about grieving is not necessarily facing the pain — it is having to face those around us that want to “see how we are doing it and if we are doing it well.”

How is this fair?

Isn’t grief hard enough as it is?

Please try to remember this in the future and make a mental note to yourself that one of the greatest gifts we can give others during their time of grief is to refrain from staring or judging how they are traversing their grief path.

Again, staring is not always caring, and believe me, those who are grieving would absolutely agree.