If you are mourning the death of a loved one, odds are that others are also mourning. These may include other family members if you’ve lost a relative and other friends or colleagues of the deceased if there is no blood relationship. In the vast majority of instances when a family member, friend, or colleague has passed on, others are mourning and grieving the loss. This reality raises the matter of how to mourn with others who mourn.
This article focuses on protocols, practices, and processes that you can consider employing in order to create a meaningful pathway to mourn loss with other people who mourn. The elements of learning to mourn with others who mourn include:
- Recognize we all mourn and grieve differently
- We all mourn and grieve in our own time
- Don’t impose your grief story on others (unless asked)
- Do share your memories of the person who passed
- Don’t speak in cliches
- Don’t impose your afterlife belief system on others
- Be open to the grief stories of others
- Silence really can be golden
Recognize We All Mourn and Grieve Differently
Perhaps nothing is more important when it comes to mourning with other who are also mourning is understanding that we all mourn and grieve differently. By keeping this essential fact of mourning and grief at the forefront of your mind, you place yourself in the best possible position to respect and honor that ways in which those around you who are working through a common loss are mourning and grieving.
We All Mourn and Grieve in Our Own Time
On a related note, you need to understand that not only does all people mourn and grieve in their own way, they also mourn and grieve in their own time. If you find that you’ve worked your way through the mourning and grieving process, you must not expect that others have completed that journey as well. Conversely, if you find that some others seem to have worked through their own mourning and grieving process, you cannot chastise yourself for still mourning and grieving. And you can’t castigate others for “mourning and grieving to fast.”
Don’t Impose Your Grief Story on Others
You may feel compelled to “share” your grief experiences with those around you. There are two primary reasons why you may feel compelled to share your grief experiences with others who are mourning and grieving:
First, you may sincerely feel you can gain some emotional relief in sharing with others who are mourning.
Second, you may think that others who are mourning can benefit from your thoughts on the mourning and grieving process.
In the end, other people who may be mourning the same loss as you may not be in an emotional position to provide you the type of support you hope to garner from sharing your grief experiences. In the alternative, others who are mourning may have no interest (at this time) in hearing what other people have to say about mourning and grief.
Do Share Your Memories of the Person Who Passed
Just because the time may not be right to share your grief story with others who are mourning doesn’t mean that you should not share your memories about the individual who has passed on. In fact, sharing memories about the individual who passed can be a positive, productive experience for you and others.
Don’t Speak in Cliches
The admonition about not speaking in cliches applies not only in the context of mourning with others who mourn but when paying condolences more generally as well. You should avoid such cliches as:
“I know how you feel.” You do not. As was pointed out a moment ago, we all mourn differently. Even if you and another family member are mourning and grieving the loss of another family member, you don’t know how that individual feels because the loss, mourning, and grief experience is unique to each of you.
“They’re in a better place.” That is an understandable hope. However, the person you utter this cliché may not want to hear that the deceased individual is gone and not with the person you are speaking with at the moment.
“Everything happens for a reason.” There are so many instances when this cliché is not only inappropriately, but breathtakingly so. And it is these really inappropriate moments that this cliché seems to be uttered most often – like to the parents of a child who has died.
Don’t Impose Your Afterlife Belief System on Others
A moment ago, we referenced personal or religious belief systems. When it comes to mourning with others who mourn, you should not – must not – impose your afterlife belief system on them. There is even diversity among different Christian faiths regarding the afterlife. You absolutely cannot presume that another individual mourning with you the loss of the same deceased individual has similar afterlife beliefs and understandings as do you.
Be Open to the Grief Stories of Others
Previously, mention was made to avoid cornering others who are mourning with your own grief story. While this might sound counterintuitive, try to make yourself open to the grief stories of others who are mourning with you.
If you are reading this article, you already have demonstrated a desire to come to a better understanding of how to mourn with others who mourn. Moreover, once another person who mourns with you opens the door to their own grief story, that individual is very likely interested in hearing your own.
Silence Really Can Be Golden
Finally, when it comes to mourning with others who mourn, remember: silence really is golden. When mourning with others, you do not have to spend great amounts of time speaking. You can sit in silence with others who are mourning, you can sit quietly and listen to what others who mourn have to share and say.
By considering the different elements of mourning with others who mourn, you will become a supportive companion of those who grieve a death. You also place yourself in a position at which you are capable of accepting support from others who mourn in a healthy, meaningful manner.