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Collateral Damage

When someone crosses to the other side there is chaos and pain. Those of us left need somewhere to direct our grief. We of course concentrate on those closest to the person who died. Most often it’s the spouse or the parents that we all rally around. They need our love and support to survive their loss. But what about the collateral damage?

The passing of a soul often leaves behind a spouse or significant other but that frequently means there are also children and grandchildren, siblings, close friends, and extended family. They deserve the same love and support you give to the “main” person, yet they are often overlooked or deemed as not as much in need. These ae the people who get gently pushed to the background so we can concentrate on the “main” person. They are often lost in the shuffle and left to figure it out for themselves.

We have all heard the saying that we “expect” to lose our parents, it’s a natural order of life. Why should that mean that grieving them is somehow going to be easier? I can assure you when my daughter lost her father there was nothing easy about it. He was her biggest cheerleader and the first man she ever loved. Why would anyone feel her grief was less significant than mine? Yet too often that is what happens. We spend the bulk of our time and energy on the one we feel is in immediate need and we put them in a secondary role.

A sibling can be devastated by losing a brother, a grandchild can be lost without the grandparent they grew to rely on for stability, a best friend may be feeling alone and scared without their confidante and sidekick. We don’t know the depth of a person’s grief so we need to make sure theirs is not looked at as trivial or not as necessary. We are all entitled to grieve.

When I hear of a child passing away my heart immediately aches for the parents, I can not imagine anything worse that losing a child. At the same time, I wonder about the siblings of these kids. Are they getting lost in the shuffle with their grief? Are they getting the same love, support and help with their grief? How does a child cope with the loss of a sibling? I can’t answer that question as I have never had that experience. I do know they can’t do it alone. This is another instance where support staff needs to step up and make sure someone is keeping an eye on them.

Make sure you extend the same courtesies to the people that are often lost in the shuffle that you would to the “main” people. Encourage them to talk and ask about their wellbeing, simply check in on them and see what you can do to ease some of their pain. I’m guessing most of them will be pleasantly surprised by your efforts.

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