I recently read a Huffington Post article a friend posted on Facebook titled “The Questions That Will Save Your Relationships”. Here is the link and I’d highly recommend reading it. In the article, the author, a stay-at-home mom of three, discusses the struggle to effectively communicate with her working husband on occasion. They realized that asking each other, “How was your day?” after 12 hours apart was quite a loaded question and left both wondering how to respond. Simply “Good?” Or, the long-winded explanation of the ups and downs of being with the kiddos all day. They resolved to start asking each other more pointed questions, which ultimately strengthened their relationship and communication:
When did you feel loved today?
When did you feel lonely?
What did I do today that made you feel appreciated?
What did I say that made you feel unnoticed?
What can I do to help you right now?
Although I do not have children, I felt this was something that we could all use – tips on how to answer questions after a suicide. These could be questions we ask our friends and family about how they are doing with the loss or even questions we ask ourselves.
I remember the months after my Dad died, being so upset when friends and family would NOT ask how I was handling the loss…OR get annoyed when people would presumptuously say, “Well, you seem to be doing fine!” It was so frustrating, and I remember my counselor asking if I’d feel better if people asked, “How are you FEELING?” rather than “How are you doing?” Either way, I think it brings up the fact that it’s hard to find people who will sit down and listen to you—and who you would even feel comfortable being vulnerable with and opening up to about your feelings.
I think many of these questions would be great conversation starters if you have issues communicating your feelings to your loved ones. I know I had that problem after my Dad died. I would bottle up what I was thinking and feeling and not even tell my husband. It sounds so stupid, but I just didn’t want to be vulnerable. Now I’m sure some of the questions sound dumb—“when did you feel lonely?”, but right after my Dad died, it seemed that if you weren’t crying or upset, the rest of the world around you thought you were doing just fine. If someone asked me that question, I’m sure I would have opened right up and discussed my feelings of abandonment and shock.
If I had specific questions like these after my Dad died, I could even see myself journaling the answers. Although my counselor recommended I journal after he did, I had such a hard time expressing how I was feeling that I didn’t even try to journal.
If you have any recommendations on how to express your grief, or what has worked for you when communicating to others, I would love to hear about it.