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GriefFeature

5 things it’s okay to do when someone’s grieving

Emma Grey

“It’s not a problem competition. Yes, this is really bad here now, but grief comes to all of us at different times.”

In the last few days I’ve had the same few situations crop up several times, so I’m guessing these are probably really common in times of grief. I posted this little message to my friends on Facebook — a bit of ‘grief etiquette’, at least from my perspective right now. Five things I think it’s okay to do or say:

1. It’s okay to be having your own problems

You don’t need to hide them from me because “it’s nothing like what you’re going through”.

I’m not inviting everyone to pile on with ‘dumping in’ (and I’m not in a position to be of much help right now, or to take on added personal stress) – but when we’re talking if you’re upset about something in your life that isn’t ‘life and death’ but is nevertheless upsetting or worrying or stressful, those are completely legitimate feelings.

It’s not a problem competition. Yes, this is really bad here now, but grief comes to all of us at different times, and three weeks ago I didn’t have this problem myself, so don’t worry about that.

2. It’s okay to cry in front of me about what has happened.

It doesn’t mean you’re making it ‘about you’ – you’re just being empathetic. Feel what you’re feeling freely and don’t try to be strong on my account. I’ve noticed this is happening a lot the first time people come over or see me somewhere, and that’s okay – I’m big on tears myself and it means you really care.

3. It’s okay not to know what to say.

Just say, “I don’t know what to say”. I never know what to say either – there is nothing TO say, really, and all that matters is your presence.

4. It’s okay to put your foot in it.

You might say “I nearly had a heart attack” or “I almost died” etc. We’ve said these things ourselves – they are throw-away lines and not offensive. We handle it here by saying, ‘oops – poor choice of words!’ and moving on.

5. Please don’t avoid sharing happy or good news.

…or talking in a loved up way about your partner’s or your plans or posting nice things and things to celebrate. I love to know that you’re happy and things are going well. #‎lifeaffirming, right?

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Emma Grey

Emma Grey is the Canberra-based author of ‘Wits’ End Before Breakfast! Confessions of a Working Mum’ and ‘Unrequited: Girl Meets Boy Band’. She’s director of the life-balance consultancy, WorkLifeBliss and co-founder of a fresh approach to time-management, My 15 Minutes. She lives just over the ACT border with her two teen daughters and young son. More about the Author

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