A dear friend of me told me about this article about appropriate behavior in times of trauma and crisis.
I find myself thinking about it. I read it after lunch and thought about it all afternoon. While pacing the halls attempting to get Lillian to nap, while organizing boxes to begin the unpacking process in the kitchen (Hallelujah!) and even while giving Lil her bath.
Does the circle theory apply to us?
I can honestly say it does.
When Ava died my core people were overwhelmed. I was in a coma and Ava had died. Their lives stopped as they sat vigil by my bedside waiting for me to wake up, waiting for me to grieve with them, waiting for life to find purpose again. During that time people did not lean on them, did not demand of them or even ask of them a thing. It seems rather fitting that everyone leaned in and kept the negative out as much as possible. So that we could survive. If people had placed their concerns on them it would have been inappropriate. Just as so many of us have dealt with. The pressures of the non bereaved on the bereaved to behave a certain way or to meet an unrealistic expectation.
It reminds me of something I struggled with a lot in the early days of grief. Something I called “Circle Jumpers.”
Imagine the people in your life in the same rings as discussed in the article. Your husband in the ring beside you, the next ring out being your immediate and closest friends and family, then perhaps good friends followed by coworkers and acquaintances One of my biggest issues in the first year of grief was Circle Jumpers. People whom did not want to belong to their circle and wanted instead to jump one ring ahead.
An acquaintance who wanted to be a good friend and know more information about our loss.
A good friend that wanted to stand ring side and watch the ugliness and rawness of grief that only the intimate people would see.
Like rubberneckers with a motive. To know more, to be “the person” I/we relied on.
It would really make me angry when people would pressure me for information, pester me with questions about HELLP syndrome or grief. It was as if they wanted to jump ahead in importance in my life to become “the person” I called, I leaned on and that I would credit with helping me survive. Please do not take me say that with conceit. I do not mean it in that way rather that I could feel the pressure that people wanted to know more and witness our grief first hand. To me it is a private thing.
I think it is ignorance of grief that makes people uneasy and behave the way they do. I have been contacted many times by friends asking me how to conduct themselves with someone bereaved. I am happy to help because I believe people often unnecessarily burden and distress the bereaved with their ignorance of grief. We could help each other by remembering our place in the circles and respecting the flow of comfort in and negative out.