No two people experience grief the same way.
There is no one right way to do it.
When you see someone go through a loss, sometimes, you empathize, because you know what it’s like to feel that way. Sometimes, you’re triggered, as their pain reminds you of your own. Sometimes, you’re angered, and you think: “I’ve also known loss and yet I didn’t react that way.”
You’re right, you didn’t.
That doesn’t mean someone else can’t.
Some people grieve quietly. Some people have tears running down their faces in their parked cars after work, minutes after smiling to their coworkers and telling them to have a great night.
Some people grieve through connection. They write letters to the new owners of their old family house. They share photos of their loved ones online. They talk to their siblings, their friends, a support group.
Some people grieve loudly. They vocalize their pain and they express themselves. They let out all the tension, all the rage, all the sheer devastation of never again being able to see someone you really love.
Some people grieve productively. They make plans, they set arrangements, they create fundraisers and bake sales. They make donations to charities in the name of their loved ones. They refuse to allow their loss to be the end of their legacy.
When these people cross paths, one of two things happen: they recognize someone just like them, going through the same process in life, or they lash out. They judge and criticize, and tell a fellow grieving person that the way they are letting go, or staying quiet, or being vocal, or continuing to honor their loved one… is wrong.
It isn’t wrong.
It’s just not everyone’s path.
Remember this when it feels like you “sucked it up” and powered through your workday, so everyone else should have to as well. Remember this when it feels like the person who isn’t loud about their loss doesn’t care. Remember this when it seems like the person running a fundraiser in someone else’s memory just “can’t let go.”
Every single person is metabolizing loss in their own way.
Every single person is figuring out what does and does not work for them, how to best heal and carry on with their lives.
It might take some people longer than others.
Some people might need additional support.
Others may need quiet, or time.
There is no right way to mourn the loss of someone or something that mattered to you more than life itself. But there is a wrong way, and that is to judge someone else for their process, to make them feel bad when they are already at a low.
Please remember that we all must find a way to move forward in the wake of loss. We all must deal with the devastating and permanent consequences of how fragile life is.
We all lose, we all mourn.
We all have stories that we don’t tell.
Remember this, and go lightly. Remember this and know, to grieve is to honor, it is to remember, it is to release, and it is to move on. However long that takes, and in whatever way that goes.
We are all having our own experience, and it’s never your place to decide whether or not someone else’s process is right for them.
It is only our place to listen, to hold space, to set boundaries, to let others find their way, and when it comes our day to mourn, give ourselves the grace to find our way, too.