Sometimes it feels like there is an elephant in the room. Someone has died and friends and loved ones no longer feel comfortable mentioning their name. We not only refrain from saying their name, but we refrain from talking about them. Do you ever wonder why we avoid saying the name of the deceased?
A friend facing the anniversary of her husband’s death was hurt that friends no longer said her husband’s name. She finally asked them why and they told her they were afraid his name would make her sad. She’s already sad that her husband died and she thinks about him all the time; she told her friends she likes to talk about him, too, and she’d welcome hearing his name.
That reminded me of a story another friend shared. It was the anniversary of the death of her 21-year old neighbor. Although she remembered the date, she did not plan to send a card or call her friend because she did not want to remind her of her loss. I explained that her friend was thinking about her son all the time, especially on the anniversary of his death. If she were to reach out to her, she would make her friend feel supported and not so alone in her grief.
It can be awkward to broach the subject, but why not give it a try. Let a friend know that you think of ‘Peter,’ her deceased spouse, every time you eat rocky road ice cream, his favorite. Or, around the anniversary of a neighbor’s daughter’s death, let them know that you’ll never forget ‘Lisa’s’ wonderful smile. Or, share with someone that something reminded you of ‘Tim’ and just the thought of him made you feel good. You’ll make them feel good, too!