things for others to know about grief and survivorship

today’s prompt was about what you would tell others about grief, something they cannot know if they aren’t in your shoes. here’s what came out:


This one is tricky for me. I feel like I have tried to be honest with people in my communities about pain, trauma, grief and they have not been able to deal with it. I know that in part it is because in some ways they also feel these things. And I wish we would build the spaces and skills to be able to wade in, to exist in a place of hurt and sadness and darkness and still exist in relation to others in healthy consensual ways.

I feel caution about speaking my pain, my experiences and my feelings. It often comes out as prescriptive, controlling and defensive. “you need to do this”, “you don’t get it and that hurts me”. I find it hard to just speak my truths and not to demand something of others or to project my pain onto others. I feel like when you have spent most of your life searching for the words, for an understanding of where all your pain comes from, it can be really hard to not blame others for how hard it was to find those words and understandings. This feels particularly acute when you are supposedly part of a community that wants to talk about pain, struggle and hurt but in actuality isn’t in a place to go there, to be in the thick of it together.

I don’t want to judge others for not being able to be in it with me. And I also want to be honest that we aren’t there, and that if we want to be, there is so much work to be done.

– – –

It feels like a lie when you say that you get it, when you say its ok to not be ok but cannot actually hold the space for others to be messy, to fall apart, to fuck up. This lie, though I know it’s unintentional, can be triggering, especially for those of us who are already dealing with the mistrust that trauma fosters.

– – –

Don’t deny my truth. Don’t pretend to understand. Don’t say you have space for me, for my pain, for my messy coping if you don’t. Know your own boundaries and be honest with me about them. My pain is not a learning tool for you, and we can grow together but its going to be fucking hard work.

When you are dishonest with yourself about what you need and pretend that you are there for me, and then reject me, talk shit about me, villianize me, thats fucked up. I want you to have boundaries. I want you to know what those boundaries are. I want you to feel that you can communicate those boundaries with me. When you don’t communicate them I flounder around trying to know how to be with you, what you need to be near me, what I need to do to be seen and accepted, doubting my ability to respect you and care for you. And to be honest, I already have enough self-doubt; I already feel lost and confused from all this pain in my chest. I don’t want to take on more.

– – –

Trauma make me so lonely. It hurts on this level I cannot articulate. I feel it in every cell of my body. There are days when it fully eclipses me and I cannot find a moment of myself. I am imploding. I become a black hole: all the energy, all the light gets sucked out and I collapse in and over myself. And it hurts; it hurts so fucking much.

Imploding is a lonely state of being. I have no idea how to reach out when i am turning in on myself. I have no idea how to connect with others when I cannot find myself.

I worry that I will pull you in, that I will suck the light out of you. I have done this before. I have hurt people I love when I am imploding.

How do you be a black hole and live in community?


– – –

It’s not your responsibility to make it better. You will never know my experiences just as I won’t know yours. It’s not helpful for you to be prescriptive about what “getting better” means. Maybe better means not getting worse. Maybe better means getting worse, being open to sinking below the surface. Maybe better means embracing coping behaviours that are self-destructive. Maybe better means momentary acceptance that I am going to be fucked up forever.

Better for me definitely does not mean getting over it, moving past it. It doesn’t mean letting other people tell me what is best for me. It doesn’t mean hiding parts of myself so that people can find me manageable.

If you want to support, sit with me.
If you want to support, deal with your own shit.
If you want to support, be honest about how much you want to give.
If you want to support, be honest about how much you can give.
If you want to support, be honest about what you don’t want to give.
If you want to support, communicate your boundaries with me.
If you want to support, recognize that support for me is reciprocal. If you aren’t in place to receive support (totally legit place to be) this isn’t going to work for me.
If you want to support, be willing to call me in when I fuck up.
If you want to support, realize it’s going to be an ongoing process of negotiation and communication.



things for others to know about grief and survivorship

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