Critical Thinking Includes Grief

David Trammel's picture

With the holidays coming up, I feel its worth mentioning that learning to think critically includes dealing with the unpleasant side of being human, the grief and sadness of loss. This can be the personal, with the loss of a family member or friend, or it can be more impersonal, like the dread that too many people now feel when considering what the Future is going to be like, with climate change and collapse. Grief, sadness, disappointment and other negative emotions are not something that should be ignored or buried, instead they should be embraced and accepted for they make us human.

This came from a FB post and I think is a good reminder.

Holiday host etiquette: If you’re inviting someone to your home and they’re grieving, be sure you’re inviting their grief to attend, too. It will be there, anyway. Don’t invite someone with the goal of cheering them up for the holidays. Don’t expect them to put on a happy face in your home. Don’t demand they fake it til they make it or do something they don’t want to do, either.

Invite them with the loving intention of offering cheer and companionship and unconditional care during the holidays. To do this, you will need to honor and be responsive to their needs and emotions.
You can do this by privately acknowledging their grief when you make the invitation:

“I know this season is extra hard and you’re heart is hurting. You and your grief are welcome in our home. Come as you are, we’d be honored to have you with us.”

It’s also incredibly loving to honor the reality that it’s often hard for grieving folks to know what they will want, need, be up for, or able to tolerate at the holidays. Giving them an invite without the need for commitment and permission to change their mind is extra loving:

“You don’t have to decide right now. If it feels good to be with us, we will have plenty of food and love for you-just show up! I’ll check in again the day before to see if you’re feeling up to coming over and if there’s anything you’d like me to know about how we can support you.”

Your grieving friends and fam need attentive care and responsiveness at the holidays, not plans to keep them busy, distracted, and happy. If they’re laughing, laugh with them. If they’re weeping, ask if they’d like your company or your help finding a quiet place to snuggle up alone for awhile. If they’re laughing while weeping, and this is more common than you’d think, stay with them - this is a precious moment of the human experience that is truly sacred.

We don’t need to protect ourselves or each other from grief at the holidays. In fact, the more we embrace grief as an honored holiday guest, the more healthy, happy, and whole our holidays will be.

I would like to recommend anything written by Stephen Jenkinsen in understanding grief and its role in our culture and lives. Also any of his many podcasts. His books are dense and I can usually only read a chapter at a time in order to reflect and try to understand his thought. Really good stuff.

Thank you for this reminder and advice. I should apply it to myself too. I'm grieving so much, especially my faith in the people around me. And I dislike the fact that I feel so sad so much of the time. Why can't I just be like the rest and pretend everything is fine as long as I 'behave' myself?
Time to find some more reliable and sensible people who won't buckle at the first sign of trouble.
The internet still has its upsides.