What an 8-Year-Old Taught Me...
What are you afraid to talk about?
A train of thought got me wondering about the elephants in the room and how beneficial it is to avoid them.
My blog post last month, "What to Say and Not to Say," gives tips on speaking with someone who is grieving over any type of loss -- especially pertinent during this holiday season. While reading Laura's comment, it occurred to me that the loss people most associate with grief is the loss of a loved one.
Yet, losing someone is something we try very hard not to think about. So hard, we often fail to prepare. We don't want to think about dying or those who we love dying. We don't talk about what that will look like, in particular what the one leaving would like their service to look like. As a result, those final decisions are left to the ones who are grieving. At the very moment when counselors advise us not to make important decisions, we have to make a truckload of them.
Regardless of how we try to avoid the thought of our loved one's dying, here's how ever-present that thought is. Completely out of the blue, our 8-year-old son looked at me and said, "Mama, I hope I die before you."
I shot back, "Shut your mouth! You better not. Why would you say that?"
"Because then, I wouldn't have to live through your dying," came his innocent response.
Shut my mouth.
It never occurred to me that would be something he'd even think about. But, isn't that how we all feel? No one wants to live through a loved one dying. Apparently, not even an 8-year-old.
In retrospect, that was the beginning of a phase where he says whatever he's thinking. Whatever he's thinking! We're having to instruct him in the art of social graces. But, I want to be careful not to instruct him too well. I think sometimes we adults would be better off if we'd say what we're thinking and feeling, especially if we'd openly discuss the elephants in our rooms.
What elephants do you need to talk about with your coworkers or family?