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Challenge: Stretched Too Thin

The silent grievers

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They walk among you every day.

The silent grievers.

It’s easy to miss them for they’ve learned how to mask their true pain.

You may think you are supporting them when you ask “How are you doing?”

But mostly they tell you what you want to hear:
“I’m doing ok.”
“Hanging in there.”
“I’m taking it one day at a time.”

But if they had permission to be honest they’d probably tell you truth:
“Sometimes I feel like I can’t breathe under the weight of all this grief.”
“I don’t understand how the world can just keep moving on.”
“I feel completely alone.”

You nod your head in sympathy and say “Let me know if you need anything.”

And again they tell you what you want to hear:
“Ok. Thanks.”
“That’s so kind. Thank you.”
“I will.”

But if they had permission to be honest they’d probably tell you truth:
“I promise you I won’t let you know if I need anything.”
“It’s all I can do to put one foot in front of the other. I don’t know what I need. I don’t have the energy to reach out. So, I won’t.
“There’s no way I will. I don’t want to seem weak.”

Maybe you give them a hug and you whisper “I wish I could make it better for you” before you walk away.

And they smile and whisper back what you want to hear:
“Thank you.”
“That means a lot.”
“I appreciate you.”

But if they had permission to be honest they’d probably tell you truth:
“No one can make it better but you could sit with me in my messy grief for a while longer.”
“I don’t want someone to make it better. I want someone to let me talk about how much it really hurts.”
“Then please reach out more. Talk about my loved one. Support me even when I can’t ask for it.”

And later that night you think about them as you capture a quiet still moment in your evening and your heart aches because you know they are struggling.

You hope they know how much you truly care about them.

You pick up your phone and think about reaching out to them.

But then you doubt yourself.

You don’t want to make them feel worse.
You don’t want to remind them of their pain if they are having a good night.
You don’t really know what to say.

And so you put down your phone and trust that they will reach out to you if they need you.

But they probably won’t.

Because we don’t give them enough permission to be real with their grief.

And so they continue to walk among us.

Grieving.

In silence.

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