Part of the grief process includes accepting other people as they express grief to you.
Simple words. I am sorry. I didn’t know he was sick. What can I do for you?
Is there anything I can help you with? What do you need?
On my best days I can hear their sorrow and share a story or remember what events we shared over the years. That being open to hearing other people’s words adds value and energy to the whole process of holding memories and space open for that loved person who has died. This process of sharing reminds us that death and dying are universal human experiences and no one goes through this alone.
The most meaningful exchange I had was just a shared glance with a hug, no words needed.
For my community of a small town, grief is communal. It is expected to comment, share your thoughts and express sympathy with a card or words or by deed. On most days that is a gift of shared human experience.
Other days, grief feels very personal to me. I find it very difficult to share those thoughts or hear those expressions of grief from others. I avoid public areas where I will run into someone who knows me and wants to express themselves.
Personal self care comes first, I will burrow in when I need to and go out with a smile when I can.