Helpless in Grief

NOTE: This article is really for the friends of someone who is grieving. I understand it is worse for the person who has lost someone. Of course it is unimaginably worse. On a day to day- more important than how I’m feeling and coping is supporting that friend or colleague. But we must not  pretend as if death does not have ripple effects in everyone. Especially when you try to empathise and understand, there are thoughts and feelings that should be talked about and expressed. This is one of my ways of doing so.

  1. unable to defend oneself or to act without help
    2. uncontrollable.

I hate the feeling of helplessness. I have always been one for action- there’s always hope even in the most futile situations, the thought of doing something to help eve against the odds is my natural inclination. With hope and optimism I determined to forge on in the worst circumstances because things always got better

But when my best friend’s dad died, the word took a whole new meaning.

It meant isolation and paralysis. Because this was a permanent condition, an un-fixable, un-helpable situation. It was a problem to which there was no solution. And the immense implications of living with that was something else.

I felt helpless that I was only human with unanswered prayers.

I felt helpless watching my friend be torn in pieces.

I feel helpless watching her feel helpless

I remember going to the funeral and trying my best every single day that week to uplift the spirits of the people around me but feeling so broken because there was nothing I could do to make my friend feel better and whole again. That really broke me in a way I had never been broken before.

Another thing is coming to terms with balancing when to be strong and when to be weak. I never knew when or with who and so I tended. I remember my emotions being very uncontrollable the week of the funeral. I think I was more grieving the loss of who my friend was and this catestophic change she was going to have to ungergo. Everything being thrown into turmoil for her and the idea that this was an inevitability for me cast doubt and uncertainty on everything I’d once believed in. That’s death for you.

Noteworthy, this isn’t the first death I’ve experienced. 2 Suicides and my Grandmother’s passing occurred over a year ago and each brought their own night terrors of paranoia, guilt, confusion and simply grief. I know to all of my friends it seemed like I was coping well and wasn’t too bothered about it. But in reality it messed me up in very unobvious ways for a long time. I was broken for a whole school year I’m surprised I did as well as  I did.

Things I’ve Learnt:

  • Each death is different. You will probably react very differently each time. Sometime it’s in very unobvious ways.
  • Nothing prepares you for it.
  • Even if you didn’t know the person well it can be shocking and
  • Each death causes me a new contemplation of the meaning of life and spirituality.
  • Death is such an uncomfortable topic nobody talks about. Everyone feels like they’re awkward and so no one says or does which can sometimes be helpful but most times stifling and further isolating.
  • You must personally find reasons to continue and live (not just survive). Do not condemn yourself to hell before you’re really there.


Death and Grief is universal across cultures even if custom and belief  differs.  Due to this I believe it is important we try our best to show our support to those in our social groups however we can. It may be uncomfortable but I know from my experiences, we all appreciate the people who tried to help us in our darkest moments.






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