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This episode came directly from an experience that I had very recently and addresses sensitive issues of mental health. It was a situation that made me really head down the proverbial rabbit hole. In a nutshell, sitting with a close girlfriend of mine, I realized that I had never told her about the death of my brother. MY BROTHER.
Okay so maybe because it happened in August over the summer when we don’t see these people a lot. Or maybe because we just don’t have that “chat every day” kind of relationship. But STILL – why on earth was I unable to share this crazy big and vulnerable thing that happened in my life. When telling her, she looked equal parts shocked and hurt. I had no excuse.
It turns out that she was also grieving an immense about of loss as she had lost several folks in her circle in the past few months. And it really stung because if we had only just shared with each other that we were dealing with these things and spoke openly about them, we would have damn sure been better off than we were letting it all bubble under the surface while we suffered in silence. Honestly, the weight I felt lift off of her when she able to unload all of this was palpable.
So why the hell don’t we talk to each other? How can we sleep next to each other and not know that our spouse is suffering from severe depression? How do we stand in a circle with our friends and not acknowledge that statistically, 1 in 4 of us have a diagnosed mental health illness? Are we afraid? Maybe. But of what? Being a bummer?
Sometimes, when people are grieving or struggling with any other type of emotional turmoil – they don’t know how to open up the conversation so I encourage you to read the clues. I.e. – a friend mentions how they feel a huge weight lifted being out of the house could translate to “man, I am really struggling after being in lockdown for a year.” Pay attention to the social cues of your loved ones. Often, we don’t have the foundation to know how to express these scary feelings and we keep it inside.
As it pertains to death and loss of a loved one, there are actionable ways to support someone who is grieving.
- Stop the grieving person, whether it is convenient or not, and tell them that while you cannot truly understand what they are feeling, you CAN understand that it must be very difficult.
- Bring up the deceased loved one often – we love to talk about them. It does not upset us or make us uncomfortable. It helps keeps their memories alive.
- Show up. Always show up. If you can’t show up for someone in the worst moment of their life, how can you be expected to show up ever?
Encourage conversations, talk about mental illness – I mean really talk about it. It could save a life.
For more about the Heavy Hearts Club podcast, head over to www.theheavyhearts.com/podcast
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If you or a loved one are struggling with thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.