Biggest Challenge May be the Silence While Grieving
This is one of the most distressing but least discussed elements of loss: coping with silence while grieving. Countless people over decades have confided to me that the biggest change they experienced when someone they loved died was the silence.
Never again will they hear the person they loved speak to them. Even more poignantly, never again will they be able to share with them all the news or gossip of the day. Or ask their advice or assistance on matters of import.
This silence is most obviously felt by those who have been in long-term relationships. The silence is especially profound if there children have moved on with their lives. Whilst some can cope with (and by nature are comfortable with) silence, many really struggle in this new scenario.
Silence After the Funeral
Patients describe the period of silence that follows when the funeral services as one of the most distressing periods they encounter in the early stages of grief. The silence can be deafening. What upsets most is the dawning realization that never again will the silence be broken by the voice of the person they loved.
There is a special quality to the relationship between long-term partners that makes this silence even more poignant and distressing. As time passes and the period of grief extends, the loss of this communication can engender ever greater sadness.
We mourn not only the loss of the person, but the loss of the sound of their voice and the joy of sharing with them every aspect of our lives.
Regular Communication is Gone
But it is not only the remaining partner in a long-term relationship who may struggle in this manner. The silence created by the inability of a parent to speak to a child or young adult who is no longer with us, can also be overwhelming.
The loss of the constant daily or weekly telephone calls to your recently deceased mother or father. The loss of regular communications with a sibling who is gone.
It would be common, in my experience, that the grieving person spends much of their time filling in the silence. They talk to their loved one when alone, as if they were there beside them. This is a normal and healthy way of dealing with your loss.
Talking Out Loud is Fine
If talking out loud to your lost loved one helps you to cope better with the loss of such an important avenue of communication, then carry on and never let anyone convince you otherwise. Others have shared their distress, after a period of time, that they could no longer remember the voice of their loved ones. It is often useful in such situations to listen to any recordings or videos of the person from the past to reignite the connection.
Are there any ways to cope better with the deafening silence which can follow the loss of someone we cared deeply for? Here are some suggestions.
Advice about Silence While Grieving
1. Accept the silence from the beginning as a reality. You will no longer be able to share with the person you loved many of the topics already mentioned above. This is hard to accept but becomes easier if you can learn to do so and use other techniques to cope with their loss.
2. Do not be afraid to talk to the person that is gone, in any way you feel. Shout at them, cry with them, talk aloud as much as you wish, share with them things that you are struggling with and so on. This has the dual effect of helping you get things off your chest and helping you to feel their presence around you.
3. Some people have found that they prefer to keep a radio or a TV or even music constantly playing in the background, to drown out the silence. Others are comfortable with leaving the silence. You must choose which one works for you.
4. Let family or close friends know that you are struggling with silence, if it is an issue. Invite them to visit you or even better visit them.
5. As time passes, you might find it useful to spend increasing amounts of time out of the house, socializing with others. For some, the house can otherwise become a cage of silence. Once again, do this at your own speed and in whatever form you choose.
Dr. Harry Barry can be reached through his website, drharrybarry.com.
He is author of Emotional Healing (Pegasus). Purchase it on Amazon.