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Protecting Our Grief

Updated: Aug 26, 2022

“Call me if you need anything”.


Anyone who has ever experienced the death of a loved one has heard those words. This phrase is used often, it is spoken without giving any thought as to the true meaning. The person uttering the phrase feels sincere and compassionate but the person hearing it is thrust into conflict. The grief-stricken person must figure out if the speaker 1) actually meant it and 2) can be trusted with the task if they were called upon.


What do we do with this phrase that is uttered to us over and over by well-meaning family members, friends, coworkers and acquaintances?


We soon realize that there are a select few whom we can trust to meet our needs. Our grief story does not need to be an open story for just anyone to wander in and out. The grief in our life is very personal and only a select few get to share in it. We soon learn who can be trusted, who is sincere and who will not insert their own story into ours. These people don’t give unsolicited advice, are not nosey and have our best interest as a priority. We set up a boundary of protection around ourselves and few people get full access.


Mandy Capehart*, from her podcast, Finding the Edges of Our Circle (October 17, 2021), suggest asking three important questions of those whom we want as our closest confidantes. The first question is asked of ourselves, 1) What kind of person do I want in my inner circle? The next two questions should be asked of those whom we choose, 2) Do you have the capacity to do that for me? And 3) Do you understand what I’m asking?


These three questions can be of value when we want to invite others into our grief story. Not everyone who offers will have what we need; our needs are the priority. We want to make sure they have the desire to stay the course and witness us in our most vulnerable, raw, grief. They will be privy to our most private thoughts, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful. These select few will also need to understand what we are asking of them. It will require being on call 24/7, they need to understand that and agree to it.


Living with grief in life can be very isolating. However, we do not need to feel isolated when we have a few trusted friends who are willing to experience our grief alongside us. We need to have those around us who will protect our privacy. They will be trustworthy and honest and willing to go into the depths with us. They will be willing to do a task, clean the bathroom, take our kids to school, hold us when we are wailing and sit in silence when words are not needed. These are the ones who truly mean, “Call me if you need anything”.


*Mandy Capehart, mandycapehart.com, Finding the Edges of Our Circle, October 17, 2021, Restorative Grief podcast.




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