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In the past two days, two of my friends shared some deep losses that they are experiencing. One friend was unexpectedly laid off (with no warning) from a job in which she had received glowing annual performance reviews for thirty-one years. The other friend is dealing with the death of her mentor, a central figure in her life.

“People will forget what you said…but people will never forget the way you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou.

Both of them feel devastated, and separately, they both confided that they feel as if they are in shock and grieving. Their grief is smart and mercifully forgiving. It comes in waves, allowing them to feel overwhelmed in more manageable periods of time instead of a constant flow.

The Season of Grief

It’s important not to rush our acceptance of these huge changes and losses. We deserve to swallow as much as we are able to and as much as we can tolerate at any given moment. And this experience is unique for every person. I don’t think grief is ever a bully—it waits for us to let it in a little bit at a time. Many people, however, become over-achievers and dive in full throttle to try to get it over with.

Luckily, we can be grateful that going full throttle is not the nature of grief. It has seasons: the beauty of summer relinquishing one turning leaf at a time to fall. It is then followed by the starkness, barrenness and dormancy of winter, a time in which we cocoon in the realities of the inevitabilities. And then, one tiny, brave blossom of spring appears, followed by others, and then we experience a re-emergence of warmth and new sprouts of hope. As spring turns back to summer, we begin to believe that we can somehow live again.

You Don’t Need to Rush

Helping each other move through loss, grief and readjustment at a healthy pace, imbued with sensitivity and tenderness, is a privilege. It is also the sacred process wherein we begin to learn the daunting lessons of surviving, enduring, and transforming. Staying at arm’s length from a grieving friend because we didn’t know what to say when we heard about the loss is not the answer.

The best we can do for that person is show up, be present, stay close with visits, phone calls, cards, text messages, and emails. I remember being touched deeply when I read Maya Angelou’s wisdom: “People will forget what you said…but people will never forget the way you made them feel.” This is the pivotal place where contact deepens into connection. This is where we weave our lives together seamlessly through each season of loss, weathering our grief in the shelter of each other.

How have you supported another or been consoled in a time of loss?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts on this delicate topic.

Contributed by

Mimi O' Connor
Group Support Specialist

Hearts linked, together we heal…

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