One day a gentleman that was in one of our grief support groups came in to say hi. He said that he saw an article in the paper about Grief and Grub and he wanted to congratulate me on the article. I thought that was so lovely of him. I also thought – hmmm I wonder what will show up in this conversation.
So, we sat down and started chatting, just catching up on what has been going on in his life since the group ended. It was light and easy.
Then things shifted a little bit, somehow we got onto the topic of books. Oh yes, I remember, he was saying that he read many books about grief, and while there was lots of information, it didn't help with the pain.
"No", I said, "you still have to feel the pain."
Then we started talking about finding a purpose – a reason to get out of bed everyday. He told me that is the hardest thing for him.
Then we went back to books. He mentioned Victor Frankl's "Mans Search for Meaning."
I said I thought it was a good book.
He said he thought it was garbage.
I was about to expound on my understanding of the book and engage in what I thought was going to be a bit of a debate. As I was about to speak, he looked at me and he said –
"Denise, he knew his wife was alive when he wrote that book."
I was humbled and embarrassed and I just sat there silently. I had no words. Even now as I write this post, I realize that I am not breathing. He was so honest – the stark reality that with his wife gone, the search for meaning was meaningless.
We sat together quietly and together we acknowledged his pain.
I was going to end this post with some information about meaning making and a grief model that we have learned here. I have changed my mind. Instead, I will end with a plea to all of you out there supporting someone who is grieving.
Don't assume, don't try to fix… just allow them to feel their pain and trust that they will come out the other side of it, stronger, with more capacity and more faith in their own ability to heal.
Let them find their way.