Grief, as you likely already know, is a difficult topic to discuss – both for those experiencing it, as well as the people with whom they interact. Those grieving the loss of a loved one often find it difficult, or even embarrassing in some cases, to talk about their feelings of grief. They may not even be aware, or have words to adequately express, how they are feeling, and how to deal with it.
While family members and friends may feel compelled to reach out to the bereaved to offer grief support, or just to listen, it can be difficult to know how to approach the situation, and what to say. Unfortunately, because of the awkwardness and uncomfortableness of the topic, and our culture’s tendency to ignore or gloss over grief, many people choose not to talk about their feelings around grief at all.
But what if the silence could be broken, if someone could start a chain of discussions around grief that would lead to more discussions, and eventually it would lead to more cultural acceptance of the topic, making it no longer be a scary thing to talk about?
Recent news highlights of celebrities talking about grief brings us hope that their ability to talk about their feelings and struggles with grief will inspire others – famous or not – to speak up about their own grief.
Two of the biggest stories include celebrities Sheryl Sandberg, C.O.O. of Facebook, and her struggle with the loss of her husband; and Prince Harry, son of the late Princess Diana.
Sheryl Sandberg’s Story
While on tropical vacation in Mexico, Sheryl lost her husband, Dave Goldberg, then C.E.O. of Survey Monkey, suddenly an unexpectedly to a massive heart attack. He was reportedly working on a treadmill in the resort’s fitness center when the tragedy occurred.
About a month after his death, Sheryl posted the following on Facebook, “I think when tragedy occurs, it presents a choice. You can give in to the void, the emptiness that fills your heart, your lungs, constricts your ability to think or even breathe. Or you can try to find meaning. These past 30 days, I have spent many of my moments lost in that void.”
The humanness of her post undoubtedly inspired others to realize that grief is an experience that each of us experiences uniquely. Her public struggles with coworkers not knowing whether or how to offer grief support after the tragedy also show that, while it isn’t easy, you can get through it.
In a recent article from The Guardian, Sheryl said, “It’s part of who we are. We share. But everyone looked at me like I was a ghost. No one would talk to me.” She confided in her boss, Mark Zuckerberg: “All my relationships are gone, and no one will talk to me.” He told her, “They want to. They just don’t know what to say.”
The C.O.O. of Facebook opened up further in a TIME Magazine article, about the awkwardness of talking about the tragedy with his coworker. He said, “I think a lot of people wanted to reach out to her, but they didn’t know how…You know, there’s this whole question of, are you reopening a wound or something?”
Sheryl has gone on to write a book that offers grief support tips and guidance, titled, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy. Its purpose is to help the bereaved to recover and ultimately find happiness.
Prince Harry’s Story
While the death of Prince Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, happened twenty years ago, he only recently began talking about his feelings around the tragedy. He was 12 years old when she died and, until his late 20s, said that he rarely talked or thought about her death, or his feelings around it. After almost two decades, Harry admitted to seeking counseling on the tragedy, after failed attempts to deal with his feelings caused him extreme anxiety and other mental angst.
Harry’s public discussion of his personal struggles with grief will hopefully inspire others to get the help they need, or at least to feel comfortable talking about what they’re going through. In a recent article in The Telegraph, Harry opened up about his decision to seek counseling, stating, “It’s all about timing. And for me personally, my brother, you know, bless him, he was a huge support to me. He kept saying this is not right, this is not normal, you need to talk to [someone] about stuff, it’s OK…The timing wasn’t right. You need to feel it in yourself, you need to find the right person to talk to as well.”
Harry is part of a new initiative focused on inspiring well-being through the Heads Together Campaign, with a mission to “get people talking and sharing stories to change the conversation on mental health.”
Let’s Keep It Going
These are just a couple of examples of celebrities working bring the reality of grief into the open. We’re highlighting them not simply because these two people are celebrities, but because when celebrities talk about subjects, they give that subject a larger platform and reach more people.
For that reason, we think it’s great to see these celebrities encouraging conversations about such a difficult topic. We hope the conversations continue to evolve and to influence generations to come to share their feelings about grief together.
For additional information grief support and grief resources, contact us.