Where did everyone go? How grief affects connections with family and friends.
This episode grew out of a few questions from the community –
- Why is it common for communication to either lessen with family/close friends or strengthen after a mutual loss?
- Why is it easier to connect with strangers?
- In my family we don't talk about the person - How do I know if I can bring it up? How do I bring it up?
Grief affects our connections with others in many ways. Loss can foster a greater closeness with family and friends and it can also wreak havoc on existing relationships, leaving people unsure and disappointed. Many factors contribute to changes in relationships, particularly the role that the person who died played in your family and friend constellation. For some grieving people, especially children and teens, it can feel more comfortable talking with those they aren’t close to, including those who didn’t know the person who died.
Suggestions for ways to make it easier to talk about the person who died in your family:
- Let people know that you want to talk about the person.
- Reassure them that talking about the person is helpful, even if you get emotional.
- Provide suggestions for responses that you find helpful and those you don’t: “I like when people use his name. I don’t like when people tell me not to feel guilty.”
- Start a conversation about creating a ritual at family gatherings to include the person who died.
- Examples include: set a chair or plate at the table for the person, invite people to bring favorite photos and create a family photo board, take videos of family members sharing memories of the person.