Continuing on the avoidance theme, many families have certain topics or feelings which are hard to talk about. Some family members may have trouble being openly sad or talking about sadness and grief. Think about what topics and feelings are not talked about in your family as a guide to the emotions which may be difficult for certain members to express. If you are someone who has trouble saying something like “I’m going to miss you when you’re gone” or “I’m sad thinking about when you’re no longer with us”, consider other ways to express this. There are many losses other than someone passing on. These include leaving the family home, losing independence, or poor health. You can help the elder or family members to talk about these emotions more easily by trying some of the following:
“My best memory of us is…What are some of your memories about _______?”
“What I appreciate most about you is….”
“ I want to tell you about ____________ before it’s too late.
“What I appreciate most about you is…”
“What I’m scared about is…”
“I remember when ____________ happened, I felt ________________. How did you feel?”
Some people will express anger or frustration to cover up sad feelings that they are uncomfortable sharing. If someone close to you often gets angry or frustrated when things related to loss come up, this may be a sign of sadness.
If having the conversation is too much, try writing down comments in a card, letter, or email, to help start the conversation.