John Pavlovitz recently wrote an article that has been making its way around Facebook. John’s article talks about the support that people need after they experience a loss. He talks about how people are very present immediately after a loss, and that they continue to be supportive and helpful up until the funeral. After the funeral, there is a significant decrease in support from friends and family. This reduction in support can feel very isolating to the one who is grieving.
This shift, or decrease in support, is not unusual, surprising or even callous or insensitive. It happens for a variety of reasons. John suggests that sometimes people misgauge how you are doing and think that you are ‘so strong’ and are doing really well. Sometimes people worry that by mentioning the loss or asking how you are might trigger feelings of sadness or interrupt your ‘process of healing’. And sometimes, people don’t know how to connect with you, as the loss was the common that you shared. There are several reasons that supports begin to diminish after a funeral.
However, it is important to realize that the grieving still need your support. Some of the most appreciated gestures for people who have experienced a loss include, calling on the deceased’s birthday, checking in around the holidays, or just getting in touch and sharing when you yourself have a fond memory of the person who has died. A loss is not an event. Grief has no end. As John pointedly phrased it, “death is a date in the calendar, but grief is the calendar”. While the funeral may be in the past, the need for support is not.