Avoidance and grief

I walked into a grocery store. I was trying to do real life things but it was like wading through sludge. Thankfully, we still had meals coming to the house and what I needed was just the basics. I was so grateful for that.

As soon as I went inside, I saw someone I knew duck quickly into another aisle.

My God I was being avoided.

For the most part, my friends and neighbors had greeted me, hugged me. I had been very public about my son’s addiction and suicide. But this stung. I had experienced the most devastating loss of my life and being avoided made me want to implode and crawl up in the corner. I felt like a balloon that has been deflated. It had taken all my strength just to get up and face the grocery store.

Instead of understanding that it was because they didn’t know what to say and were uncomfortable, I irrationally took it personally. In my state of grief, just a month or so out from my son’s death, I wanted to yell, “Hey you hiding in the cereal aisle, did I interrupt your perfect life with my ugly tragedy?”

Immediately my mind went to that one friend who still hadn’t come by, called or even sent a card. I stuck with her through a very difficult time yet as soon as I needed her, she was awol.

Then I fueled my own anger more when I thought back to the business acquaintance who waved me away and said, “God don’t say anything. I don’t want to hear it,” before I opened my mouth to say hello, as if I my mere appearance in front of him was poisonous.

I dove into full-scale pity party mode and thought about all the awful things that had happened in the last two weeks–the evil but scammy funeral business who held Charles’ body hostage and demanded payment before they’d release the body to the legitimate funeral home. And then there were the friends I ran into the previous day who were so visibly shocked by running into me, they looked like children caught holding their mommy’s vibrator.

I stopped myself right there.

Good God I had enough to be sad about, I didn’t need to put under microscope every little thing that had happened in the last month. The one big awful thing, Charles’ death, was bad enough.

I couldn’t be held hostage by how poorly others dealt with my naked momma grief. What about all those people who helped us pack? All the ones who helped us clean our house to move? And what about the meals that were still coming to the house and the people who arranged the schedule?

I had a lot to be grateful for. I took a deep breath, pushed my cart forward.

This happened years ago. And I rehashed it here merely to make the point of how people struggle with the grief of others. Grief is so normal, so much a part of life I found it shocking how ill prepared we are to support one another.

Published by

AnneMoss Rogers

AnneMoss Rogers is a mental health and suicide education expert, mental health speaker, suicide prevention trainer and consultant. She is author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW. She raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost her younger son, Charles to addiction and suicide on June 5, 2015. She is a motivational speaker who empowers by educating and provides life saving strategies and emotionally healthy coping skills. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now that's the legacy she carries forward in her son's memory. Mental Health Speakers Website.

2 thoughts on “Avoidance and grief”

  1. Gosh AM – pat yourself on the back for going to the grocery store one month out. Good lord – I didn’t go to my “home” grocery store for almost 6 months.
    People are completely clueless. If we can educate them on how to behave, we have done a pubic service.

    1. I actually think what you did was smart. I just ran in to get a couple of items and was not thinking. But I did get a prickly almost panicky feeling right before walking in. It would have been best for me to wait as you did. But I did run into my friend Cheryl at the check out line who hugged me and asked how I was doing. So it helped erase the person who scattered.

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