The elephant in the room. When everyone knows it's there, but no one wants to acknowledge it. How does this help or hurt someone who has just experienced a loss? The loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, the loss of relationship.
This chapter was interesting and I'm not sure how I feel about it yet, but there are definitely several points that I take from it.
ASK HOW THEY ARE DOING
When someone shows up with a cast, we immediately inquire, "What happened?" If your ankle gets shattered, people ask to hear the story. If your life gets shattered, they don't.
Why do we avoid the subject? Why do we avoid painful conversations? The book claims that even people who have endured the worst suffering often want to talk about it. But if we never ask, they will never have the opportunity.
The two things we want to know when we're in pain are that we're not crazy to feel the way we do and that we have support.
As I'm reading through this book, I'm realizing how isolating experiencing loss can be for some people. The norm where I grew up (read: Hawaii), grieving was something you hid and did not allow anyone else to see. I don't know if it was a pride thing or just trying to put on a strong, brave face.
Some people need to talk about their loss and sometimes the only way they feel like they can is when someone else invites the conversation. By staying silent, they often end up isolating family, friends and coworkers.
As the elephant in the room went unacknowledged, it started acting up, trampling over my relationships.
But then what do you say? What if you say the wrong thing? How do you open up that conversation?
A good tip from the book? Instead of asking someone, "How are you?" you can ask "How are you today?" It shows that we are aware of the struggle of getting through each day.