By Jason Flinn, Certified Life Coach and Grief Recovery Specialist Contributing Columnist
If I were to pick one strategy that most grieving people consistently use to manage their pain, it would be to keep busy. This world has much to offer us to keep busy. Technology in every hand and for every set of eyes distracts our minds from processing our own hurt. Keeping busy is one of the most painful myths when dealing with loss, because at some point, we all have to stop.
A difficult time of day for grievers can be night time. The expression, “The silence was deafening.” is frighteningly true especially for someone who has chosen throughout the day to keep busy to manage their emotional pain. This can also be the reason many of us turn to screens and devices in the later hours. Unfortunately sleep patterns can be dramatically affected by evening scrolling and the rest required can become harder to achieve. Many grievers will wake up more often throughout the night to face difficult feelings attached to their loss that they spent the day avoiding. In those hours they are not equipped to pursue recovery, available supports or an ear to listen to them. When the new day begins they are even more exhausted, but will still choose to stay busy.
Some people flash their badge of busyness to the world to measure their worth and importance. The grieving person is different as they will often choose to demonstrate keeping busy as caring for everyone but themselves. The question I ask those individuals is, “Who is taking care of the caregiver?”. Unfortunately the answer is sometimes painfully clear, but not because those around them don’t want to help. How do you approach someone who is always busy? When does someone have the opportunity to inquire if the busy person is hurting? Do any of us look at the person who is taking care of everything and everyone around them and think, “They need me.”? Not nearly enough.
Asking the “keep busy” person to meet you for coffee is a great place to start. Share a daytime comfortable silence with them instead of leaving them to their nighttime uncomfortable silence alone. Create a safe space for them to be vulnerable and ask them questions instead of giving them advice. Advice will often send them off to do something, where a thoughtful question from a friend can lead them to feel something.
Photo by Antoni Shkraba: https://www.pexels.com/photo/photo-of-woman-writing-on-tablet-computer-while-using-laptop-4348401/