Grief Can Trigger Silence.

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( Many of us have been told grief happens in a cycle. However, that cycle is not the same for everyone. Grief can be hard to deal with because it can manifest itself in many different ways depending on the person. Everyone doesn’t have severe crying spells, loss of appetite, restless nights, withdrawal from usual activities, and possible fits of anger. Sometimes a grieving person is highly functional keeping the routine of their life in tact as they feel they need it for mental and emotional support. This can cause relatives and friends to be quite concerned that their grieving loves one might be in denial. This can cause discord and anger as the grieving party begins to feel misunderstood.

Often times the only basis of comparison or experience we have with grief is our own. So, subconsciously we may view others that are grieving through the lens of our own grief process. This can be detrimental to the person grieving. Silence can be triggered by grief, and some choose to handle their sorrows quietly. This has not thing to do with denial but can have everything to do with a different manner of response.

Many of us know silence as a withdrawn state that is a cry for help. Sometimes a person may be experiencing shock in their trauma rendering them silent, or they might feel no one understands what they are going through. There are times a grieving individual will try to open up, but the person they are talking to does all the talking never allowing them to express how they are filling. Of course, silence can also be a state of denial.

Basically, if I don’t speak on the grief it doesn’t exist, or I don’t have to deal with it, for now. Because these are many of the behaviors, we relate silence to in a state of grief we tend to forget this is not the case for everyone. Grief triggers silence in some and it is a part of their healing, and self-care process. This is often seen in people that are introverts, and those that tend to find peace and comfort in silent spaces.

It has been two years since I lost my father. The death of a parent is traumatic, life altering, and it leaves a scar that time can never erase. Many of my love ones have been supportive of my family, and very compassionate. They wanted us to know they were there for anything we may have needed…especially if we needed to talk. It was considered odd that I didn’t appear to be losing it, and even more suspicious that in many spaces I didn’t want to have a discussion. Some saw the silence as a cry for help, while others considered it dismissive of their efforts to be a comfort.

The truth was I needed the silence. I needed to come to terms with things in the safety of my own space. I was most certainly not in denial and was extremely grateful for loved ones, but my grieving showed itself differently from their expectation. This would be a point of contention in a time when I didn’t need negative confrontations. I needed to be allowed to speak on my own terms, and I refused to mirror the expectations of others in handling the hardest challenge of my life.

Silence is safety for some people. It is not safety from others per se, but it is the safety to begin processing information without negativity or an overbearing amount of emotion.  It can allow some to see more clearly while protecting their mental and physical health. It is not a shutdown; those people tend to keep routines and communicate regularly. They are just not ready to speak on what they are currently processing, and that should be respected. The silence on a matter does not mean they are so strong that they are free to have the emotional weight of others dumped on them.

You may find that there are times when they have scheduled themselves to be unavailable because they are tending to their self-care. This is definitely not the grief process for many people, but productive silence should be respected as part of the process for those that need it.

Staff Writer; Christian Starr

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