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National Grief Awareness Week

National Grief Awkwardness Week starts…

Wait, I mean, National Grief Awareness Week starts today.

Grief is awkward for the griever AND the supporter!

So, my goal over the next six days is to make it feel more like the National Grief I Know How to Show Up Week!

I'll be posting little tips and stories all week. I hope it will help someone feel less awkward around grief and work.

Today's tip is…

Say nothing.

Yup. Say nothing. (If you've been following me, you know this is exactly the opposite of my advice. But you have to say nothing in an exceptional sort of way.)

David Brooks told a story at a Free Libray Event this year as part of a larger conversation around the art of seeing others on YouTube. He talked about a vital tool in any human's toolbox called accompaniment.

Author Events. (2023, Nov. 3). David Brooks | How to Know a Person: The Art of Seeing Others Deeply and Being Deeply Seen. [Video]. YouTube.

Here is the story as he told it.

I had a student a couple of years ago, two years ago, whose dad died of pancreatic cancer while she was in college. And as he was dying, they talked about the fact that he would probably miss some of the big events of her life, like her wedding.

After college, she was a bridesmaid at a friend's wedding.

She went through the wedding. She watched the father give a toast to his daughter. Then, it came time for the father-daughter dance.

And she just didn't want to sit through that. So she left the table and went to the restroom quietly, just to have a cry.

And when she came out of the restroom, all the people at her table at the adjacent table had gotten up and had been standing by the door of the restroom.

She wrote this in a paper that she gave me permission to quote from.

"What I will remember forever is that no one said a word. Each person, including newer boyfriends, who I knew less well, gave me a reaffirming hug and headed back to their table. No one lingered or awkwardly tried to validate my grief. They were there for me, just for a moment. And it was exactly what I needed."

Sometimes, saying nothing is more powerful than any words.

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