Sunday, December 4, 2011

Grief…Manners and Communication

 The sky over the South Pacific 2010 
I have been sympathising lately with an acquaintance who is suffering a profound sense of grief.  I actually met her at the funeral for her cousin the day after I returned from my recent trip to France. had also buried her eldest daughter 6 weeks earlier, a young woman who had not yet reached 30 years of age.

I had been in Europe when her daughter died and I had not heard the news until my return.  What to do?  Her friends advised that she was coping as best she could; that she wasn’t receiving visitors but that mail was being collected from her mailbox.

Her Facebook page was filled with condolences.  But for me, the loss of a daughter required a personal, handwritten message of sympathy and support.  Old fashioned perhaps, but still that personal touch seemed to resonate even with the younger friends, who surprisingly also chose to write to the bereaved mother, rather than to only commiserate through the internet medium.
Storm clouds over the island of Palau, 2010 
I recently have also had an enormous loss, albeit one which doesn’t even remotely compare with the loss of a child.  But nevertheless has been devastating for me and a level of grief, and its stages, has been encountered.

And it has been inspiring to see how my friends and acquaintances have reacted.  Unanimously, from around the world, their friendship has been paramount in their support.  It has shown itself in the most amazing ways…certainly internet support via emails, SMS and Skype.  But also in the old fashioned  way. Flowers with handwritten cards, offers of cooked meals, holidays…and certainly from those nearby, hugs.
The island of Yap 2010
As I wrote in a relatively recent post gold and silver standard friendships stand the test of time.  And they certainly assist when grief is overwhelming.

My thought regarding the manners of dealing with people with grief is this…empathise.  It is what the concept of manners is about, putting yourself in the shoes of the other person and responding with kindness and consideration.

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