Every Wednesday

Every Wednesday I will post something about grief. Sometimes it will be a reflection on an aspect of grief’s landscape. Now and then I will share from my own journey of grief, because in the sharing of our stories we find strength and build a community of people that support one another.

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

There's Not One Way to Grieve

Book: We Need To Talk About Grief, Annie Broadbent

One of the great contributions of Annie's book is making it clear that there is no one way to grieve, and no set way to help those who are grieving.

Rather than simply tell her own story of grief, and then broaden this out with contextual insights to help others, she shares 16 stories of people grieving a wide variety of deaths. Because of the different circumstances, what one person needs in her or his grief is opposite of what someone else needs. By having people tell their stories in ten pages, we understand why they feel the way they do and why they need different interactions with others. At the end of each story, Broadbent summarizes what we have learned.

An ending chapter notes the consistencies in the grieving as well as the contradictions. We understand why the grief of a wife is different that the grief of her husband’s parents, and different from the grief of his siblings, children, and best friend. They all grieve, just in different ways. I appreciated specific examples like the rabbi singing a lament that helped those who had not yet grieved to do so. This affirms that a community also grieves each death.

Even if we have experienced the specific kind of grief that people are dealing with, we don’t know where they are in that grief until we listen to them. We grieve, and we help those who are grieving, by being honest with ourselves, and by listening.

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