Yes, You Can Ask About My Grief

“I don’t know what to say.”

In the nearly six months since my mom unexpectedly passed away, I have heard this phrase numerous times. And this is the response I have said so many times:

“I don’t know what to say, either. It wasn’t supposed to be this way.”

I have often seen the “deer in headlights” look from both friends and strangers when my mom’s absence works its way into a conversation. I know it all too well (I have the same look when I enter unknown conversational territory!)

I also know that it can be incredibly difficult to know if you should ask. And my advice is this:

Yes, please ask me. Ask me how I am doing, how I am handling things. Ask about my family, or Max, or anything. Don’t be afraid to ask.

We talk about things that are important to us. My mom was, is, and always will be important to me. So yes, I want to talk about her.

Are there times not to ask someone about their grief? Of course. And there are times that people may decline to discuss, even when the timing might seem right to you. But being asked has really made a difference to me. And I know that one of the hesitations about asking someone about their tough situation is that they  might get upset.

If I get upset talking about my grief, it isn’t because you asked. It is because losing my mom has been so very, very hard.

Being present with someone in their grief is tough. Watching someone get upset is tough. It’s okay if you don’t have anything else to say and things go silent. And if it’s too tough for you to ask in person, don’t think that phone calls, emails, and letters carry less significance. Your words matter, regardless of how they are delivered.

And I still want to hear the honest truth about your life, too. Don’t be afraid to talk about your struggles, even if you think they are minor compared to losing a parent.

Struggle, sadness, and sorrow are not competitive. There are no winners in the “Grief Olympics”. I want to still be there for you, even while I am struggling. We are stronger together.

Happy to take any comments!
  1. SaraLynn says:

    Beautifully written! I was one who failed at this miserably and for that I am so so sorry. thank you for putting this into words so well and giving permission for people to ask and walk with you through this hard time. Sending love and hugs!

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