Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Guide to Dealing with 'The Bereaved'/ or Rant

Emily Post neglected to write this so I thought I'd give her a hand.
Disclaimer: I have no filter when someone close to me dies; it's all shoot from the hip.
So having lost my cousin and my dad within two weeks or something of each other, I've received a lot of condolences and commiserations and people telling me how I should feel or what I should do. People I don't normally speak to are calling me, not introducing themselves, and then telling me to be strong or whatever. Like, if we don't speak in real life, why are you calling to give me condolences? I don't know you so I'll never know if you don't bother to call me. You're just wasting my phone battery which is having its ass kicked by all the legitimate phone calls I do have to make; like calling the newspaper and trying to make sure they don't make my dad look like an orc in his obituary pic.
So here is a small guide to the do's and don't's of dealing with the bereaved...or maybe its just how to deal with me when I'm bereaved;

- Do not platitudinise. Is that a word? It should be. It covers stuff like "Our thoughts and prayers are with you", quite frankly my dear, I don't give a damn where your thoughts are. I'm too busy trying to handle a LOT OF SHIT RIGHT NOW.
- Don't go on and on about how I'm feeling or not feeling. What does it help? Much more appreciated is BEING THERE. This is something I've learned in the last month and I plan to implement in my own life. Either show up or shut up. In between is just making yourself feel better rather than really supporting the person you claim to be supporting.
- We do notice if you are there. If you help out, or just sit quietly next to us saying nothing especially not saying platitudes or psychoanalysing...making us laugh is even better. Having genuine interaction instead of platitudes is the best.
- We're still basically the same people so no need to treat us like fragile eggs that you're just waiting to break.
- Please don't bring any negativity into an already fraught situation.
- Remember that tempers are short, sensitivity is high, and we're probably tired from not sleeping too well. Cut us some slack.
My cousin told me a story about how when she told her small child about her brother's death, the child was very sad and she said
 "tell me a story so I can be distracted and feel better."
It struck me because I just wrote an article about escaping life through stories not too long ago. It filled me with renewed zeal. If someone's story can make me feel better than I do now, hell, I will sooo take it. And if I can write stories that take people away from the shit in their lives...mission accomplished.

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