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You Don't Have to Be Close to Feel Sad


Grieving Process

Posted On: Mar 17, 2017

You Don't Have to Be Close to Feel Sad

Discussions of grief are almost exclusively framed around the idea of a strong relationship with the deceased. There seems to be this idea that unless you're intimately acquainted with someone, you don't grieve. That couldn't be further from the truth. It neglects the natural empathy of human beings, for one thing. Most of us are easily able to empathize, or at least sympathize, with the sorrow of others. We are also able to feel sadness over the loss of someone we don't know that well.

You Mourn People in Your Daily Life

Say you're a stylist who learns that a favored client recently passed away. Perhaps you're a nurse on the dialysis ward, and one of your patients succumbs to kidney disease. The mail carrier, the neighborhood policeman, the elderly lady who shops for groceries at the same time every week—these are the people you see in your day-to-day life. You aren't terribly close—they aren't your best friends or members of your family—but you know them, you have affection for them, and so, of course, you're sad when they pass.

Approaching the Survivors

Losing an acquaintance still hurts. One of the kindest things you can do is to reach out to the survivors left behind. However, this is a trickier and more delicate situation than comforting close friends and relatives after a death. You can still reach out; it's just a slightly more formal endeavor. If you don't know the surviving family at all, then you might want to consider simply sending something in your stead—food, a flower arrangement, fruit, or even a note. If you're acquainted with the survivors, then feel free to call, offer your condolences, ask if they need anything, and perhaps make plans to visit or attend the funeral services.

A Different Type of Grief

The bereavement you experience following the death of a casual friend or acquaintance is distinct from the pain you feel after losing someone close to you. It's gentler, softer, and more mellow because you have perspective and distance. You're still affected, but it's likely not overwhelming—and that's okay. You still feel for the deceased and her or his family.

Grief doesn't have boundaries. As humans, we're capable of grieving in a variety of situations, for a variety of different people and things. That's why we mourn our animals and cry for people we've never met.