Making Sense Of What Grievers Really Need

I had the honor recently to be nominated as one of the Nurse’s to appear in my company’s website for Nurse’s week. The Supervisor that nominated me had also mentioned that I write a grief blog.

I was interviewed for the article and asked a few questions on writing about grief. It has not been overlooked by me that grief and the effects of loss within a family are difficult subjects to write and certainly talk about. Any unpleasant subjects cause most to get uncomfortable, turn the page or want to talk about something else. Who could blame them?

I write about my personal experience with grief from my own perspective. I write about learning to live without Konnor and how painful that is. How I at times, continue to struggle with the effects of this loss. Yet, I have also learned that the subject of grief and death is uncomfortable to the general population. People do not know how to react to those of us grieving. Most have a preconceived belief that grief has time limits. Those that haven’t seen you in a while even “forget” that your loved one has died. Yes, hard to imagine but they do forget.

You cannot engage in conversation about grief without talking about death. I have figured out that most will avoid those that grieve because of death. It is as if speaking to a griever about their loss is equivalent to being near a person with a contagious disease. It is taboo. Will they become jinxed and suffer a death within their own family? It causes them to question their own mortality. People prefer to ignore all thoughts of death or dying until it creeps up and slaps them in the face.

Grievers struggle to live side by side with non-grievers. We struggle for understanding. Specifically from those of extended family and close friends who do not grasp what we continue to live with day-to-day and what we need from those around us.

We really just want to be seen and we just want to be heard. Even after time has passed.  After the funeral is over, long after you walked away, we have basically stood still in our grief.

It simply boils down to basic needs. As grievers we have the same needs as everyone else. We just need a little more attention. But we won’t ask for anything from anyone. Remember, we are the walking wounded. Just because you cannot see our wounds does not mean they are not there. We still hurt, we feel alone, forgotten. We need you to look a little closer, try a little harder so we know we are not forgotten.

I feel very much alone in my grief over Konnor. I always have. The weight of it can leave me feeling heavy, tired. I think about him all the time. With the exception of my immediate family it is hard to find understanding of what I am feeling emotionally. We need to bring grief out of the dark and into the light where it makes more sense. Think about your senses. What we need is within these senses. It really isn’t all that hard when you think about it.

Look at me. See me? Do I appear distant? Looking off into space? This is probably when I am thinking about Konnor and missing him the most. Look me in the eyes and simply smile at me. Make a connection. It could make my day. No words needed.

Listen to me. If I start to talk to you, even if it’s not at the right time, can you give me a minute? Maybe I need that moment. I spend a lot of time alone, when words spill out of me take advantage of it.

Speak to me. Say his name. Maybe once in a while just hearing you say his name lets me know you remember him too. You have no idea the impact this has on me.

Touch me. Reach out. Every now and then a touch on my arm or shoulder or even a hug is what I need to keep going. I may act like I don’t need it but I do.

Grief is an uncomfortable subject. Death and dying is a scary thing to everyone. In my career I have worked with many physicians who could not have conversations with family members about hospice when it was an appropriate step in medical care. Society as a whole is not comfortable with death. We do not know how to prepare for it and we do not know how to cope with the effects of its aftermath.

We either act as if nothing has happened, void of emotion or we stuff everything we feel inside and hide it because grief is not understood or accepted in public. We have our three days off work to grieve and attend our funeral services and then we go back to work and everything and everybody is normal?? What happened to being in mourning? Why isn’t it appropriate to talk about the grief and pain when a loved one has passed? I am at a loss, I just cannot understand.

I write a grief blog. I write what I feel. My hope is that I continue to reach others who are grieving and that they continue to say, “I feel that same way.” The more we acknowledge grievers letting them know that support is available to them, that you are aware they still grieve, the less alone they will feel. It makes a huge difference to us when compassion fills that empty space grief has left behind.

“A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.”
Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

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Grieving Grandmother to Konnor Mason who passed suddenly at eight years old on November 22, 2015. With this blog I hope to share my thoughts and feelings as I move forward through grief toward hope and healing.

13 thoughts on “Making Sense Of What Grievers Really Need

  1. What a beautiful post. I truly believe that if we spoke more about death, we would be able to cope with it more. I don’t mean that it would hurt any less, just that perhaps as some other cultures do, a celebration of it would remove some of the fear. I’ve been told my dad is at the end of his life. There’s no one to talk about this too. It’s much too easy to pretend it isn’t happening.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly. It seems we tend to ignore it. Just look at how we ignore the mass shootings in this country. Death is before our eyes but if we don’t talk about it then perhaps it will avoid us personally.
      I am sorry to hear about your Dad. My prayers are with him and you and your family.

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  2. In honor of Nurses week I wanted to share this with you. I had the honor of being the key speaker at Clinton Community’s Nursing Graduation this Past Saturday. My message was not for the nurses graduating but more of a tribute of what nurses do and the hard work they endure daily . This is my real life scenario if what your ER nurses do !!❤️this was my core part of my speech. I received a standing ovation with not one dry eye in the room. It’s the true meaning of being a nurse.
    As I sit here representing the nursing class of 2018 I have no written speech, no traditional words to say, no formal quotes just the love in my heart and the experience I carry in my life. As some of you know my son Nicholas Roberts was killed in a horrific snowmobile accident in 2013. I watched them carry his body out of the woods noticing his pupils were dilated and he was barely conscious. I knew his condition was critical, I knew how serious this was AS I AM A NURSE. Arriving at the ER I was greeted by a young lady that said “come with me and I’ll bring you to your son” I remember her concerned look and the compassion she showed in her facial expression.“FOR SHE WAS A NURSE”. She brought me to his room and as she opened the curtain I instantly noticed a fine young man doing compression as another young soul was using a ambu- bag performing CPR. neither one of them missed a beat, they were so focused on doing what they were trained to do “FOR THEY were NURSES”. I started to feel faint, my knees weak and panic stricken then I felt a warm arm gently guide me to a chair asking me if I was ok? “FOR SHE WAS A NURSE”. The room was so busy as the trauma team worked frantically to save him. I scanned the room noticing someone starting IVs , someone else wrapping his body in warm blankets, while others were trying to get a heart beat “FOR THEY WERE ALL NURSES”. I sat outside the room with my head buried in my lap, I could hear the buzzing and beeping of the machines and constant chatter when suddenly I felt a soft tap on my shoulder as I looked up, I was asked would you like to say a prayer father is here to bless your son- OMG. last rights?? She took my hand knelt down looking me straight in the face as we said a prayer together. As she held it together , I fell apart sobbing with tears ,she never once left me alone “ FOR SHE WAS A NURSE.
    As the beeping stopped and chatter shifted to silence I knew what was going on, I knew they did everything they could to save him. As the room emptied out one by one they hugged me giving their condolences. I could see the pain in their faces and tears in their eyes .. they felt defeated they felt like they failed me”. FOR THEY WERE NURSES.
    As they cleaned up his body they wiped away the blood , removed the tubes, put clean sheets on his bed folded his arms peacefully across his chest making him presentable to his brothers to see him. They made him look so peaceful and at rest and they did it with such grace and dignity” FOR THEY WERE NURSES”.
    As we said our last goodbyes we were never alone, never! Every ten minutes or so extra Kleenex and water would appear in the lightly dim room. You would hear a soft voice asking us if we needed anything telling us to take our time and that we can stay with Nicholas as long as we needed to.It was like a angel making sure I was ok she would quietly skip in the room check on us and then quietly disappear letting us grieve as a family. FOR SHE WAS A NURSE”. As I gained the strength to say my very last goodbye knowing I was leaving Nicholas behind I was handed a simple white hospital bag telling me “here is your son’s clothes and wallet” with tears in her eyes and compassion in her heart I knew she felt my pain, I knew this experience had changed her as well. “FOR SHE WAS A NURSE”
    As the weeks passed after his death I was trying to put the pieces of my heart back together when I discovered Nicholas was going to be a daddy. Nicholas never knew his GF was pregnant and I do feel it was a gift from god. I can remember that phone call telling me it was time, – time to meet Nicks baby. I was nervous, anxious but mostly felt blessed. As the door of the nursery opened I saw a woman and in her arms was a bundle, a bundle of pure love, as she handed me this perfect little human being she said” meet your grandson”Milo Ryan Roberts. It was honestly one of the best days of my life” it felt to me like she was an angel sent from heaven to
    heal my heart ..FOR SHE WAS A NURSE”

    Gail Roberts RN,BSN

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    1. Thank you for sharing your story with me, you wrote it so beautifully. I am so sorry for your loss. As nurses we DO understand loss even before it touched our own lives and we have that compassion we wish so many others knew.

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  3. I enjoy your blog’s because you can tell they are from the heart. I am a motherless daughter and I don’t think anybody except my sister and my Moms little sister understand how I still grieve even though it has been 3 years. On Mothera day I really needed my children and only one showed up at 9:30 pm that night . I am grateful for him!

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    1. Grief is very lonely. If I could not write I do not know how I would cope with what I feel since Konnor’s death. It is the only way I know to let my feelings out. My heart goes out to you. Thank you for reading, if it helps you then I am happy. 💕

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  4. I have been a thanatologist, grief specialist for years. It is only when I started to share my own grief that my work felt more fulfilled. I relate to all that was written especially when people believe I can deal with the death of my loved ones because I work in the field. I am pleased to report that I have NO ONE in my life anymore who doesn’t
    get it. NO ONE. I would rather be alone than to be with people who insist I am doing well, that I am getting over all the loved ones who have died, although they won’t say the worid died, death, nothing. that I need to get on with my life (even though they have never lost anyone to death)I am not wasting my breath to try to convince people that the love of my life and two of my best friends died within two years. It is coming up to three. I am asked, doesn’t it bother you to work with the bereaved? No, it strengthens my belief that we can help one another ir we are open. Some of my colleagues disapprove of my openness.how can I help anyone if I don’t share my continuous journey with them, giving some hope of the roller coaster slowing down before it starts up again – a time to breathe. I share with them that the statement overcoming is not the same as getting over, saved my sanity. I was raised if you can call it that on forgive and forget. how ridiculous. We can forgive – never forget. Would I want to forget this unexpected gift called John, my two life long friends Joan and Peter, those who formed the quartet? Could I ever forget my beloved cousin laurence, my protector, who was killed in combat? I have a long list. I am the last of the quartet Jphn, Joan Peter and I. . I don’t like it and can only be with people who can hear that, that I don’t want to be the last of the quartet without calling 911 or 999 in my country of origin.everybody grieves differently. I work with the parents of murdered children. I don’t know how they feel and wouldn’t insult them by telling them so. they trust me and that;s good enough for me. T hank you so much for this posting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I understand you saying you would rather be alone than with others who insist on getting over our loved ones, I also, especially with grief understand forgiving yet not forgetting. For these reasons I suppose I have chosen to be alone. I don’t think my deep grief over Konnor is truly understood. It is my journey and to find comfort I write and I share with others such as yourself. I would love to have people in my life to talk to like you but this is my path. Thank you for your response. It means so much to me. 💕

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