Home Home About Zen Mama Contact

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Expectations for the Grieving Soul

I have two dear friends who have both, sadly, lost a young child. You're probably familiar with them. If not, you can read about Rissa, Jessica, and Rocky HERE and Patrick and Julie HERE. And you should read about them.

Julie and Jessica grieved and continue to grieve, but they do so differently. What isn't different, though, is what I've noticed about those around them, which is the inspiration for this post. I've noticed that we, those around the grieving, place impossible expectations on them that I'd like to point out here:

- grieve the way I want you to grieve, the way I would grieve
- don't grieve for too long
- don't grieve too little
- be soothed by what I'd be soothed by
- be thankful for the time you had
- be angry for the time you didn't
- be grateful for everything I say
- let me do whatever I need to do for you
- help me feel better about your loss by saying "thank you" and "it's OK" a lot
- comfort me while I'm comforting you in the way that I want to be comforted
- fall apart, so I know you really care
- don't fall apart more than I deem appropriate
- come up with something for me to do for you, so that I can feel better
- don't ask for too much, though, because my empathy only runs so deep and stops when it gets inconvenient
- answer all of my questions, however prying they may be
- come to me with your feelings, because I need to feel like I'm the special one you lean on
- believe as I believe regarding God, gods, the Goddess, reincarnation, etc., so that I can comfort you as I wish

The list goes on and on.

Stop it.

It's likely you don't see yourself in this post. I don't believe anyone places these expectations on the grieving soul purposely, but I do believe the majority of folk do, indeed, make this grave mistake. So before you write this post off as not pertaining to you, as being for "those other people," reflect deeply on your interactions with those who grieve and maybe, just maybe, make a few adjustments as needed for them and the next grieving person you encounter, because, sadly, there will be another...and another and another and another...and what they need from us is whatever they need, which has not a thing to do with you.


  1. Thank you for this and for sharing Little Rissa's beautiful life with us. I love reading things like this and appreciate the post. Julie once posted something about grief and rings of support and how you can go to an outer ring, but not and inner ring. It really helped me to understand some of the aspects of grief. I love the insight.

    1. I think what's most important for everyone to understand is that everyone grieves differently and it's all OK. All they need from us is to know that we're there if they need us...and then to be there if they do.