This morning a friend pointed out a lady he knew well who had lost her son in a road traffic accident just before Christmas. I really felt her pain. Although I had never met her before, I found an appropriate time to walk up to her and express how sorry I was for her loss and gave her a gentle hug. She accepted my gesture gracefully.
‘The Elephant in the room’: this idiom could be used to describe the situation with friends and acquaintances sometimes. I think awkwardness around themes such as death, especially suicide, mental illness and emotional vulnerability is very common. During a consultation with a doctor from a traditional medical discipline, I mentioned the fact that I had recently lost my son might be affecting my health. The consultation ended with not so much as an acknowledgement of that statement.
Death is the surest part of life. If one is born one must die. Family and friends of the deceased feeling sad is perfectly normal. Why the awkwardness? May be it comes from within us, possibly at our perceived inability to handle their feelings if they were to come out. Or is it because of a concept of ‘intrusion’?
Stiff upper lip is a deformity. I think the more I express myself, the healthier it is for me and others around me. It allows for our collective humanness. The most heartfelt sympathies I have felt have been silent ones – just a hug, or a tender smile and hand shake. The simplest of sentences say a lot, “How are you? I am so sorry for your loss”.
With reference to this morning, all I did was place enough trust in myself to say the right thing with all honesty.