What grief does to you

I’ve been reading about how the family members of the 12 miners killed in West Virginia are lashing out at the officials who miscommunicated with them.

The tragedy is that these men died, not that they were led to believe for a short time that their loved ones were alive. A big deal is being made of the timeline of how the families were informed and why it took 3 hours. A wasted exercise.

Advice to the officials: let it go. Stop trying to explain yourselves. Right now, you are not going to get these poor people to feel better about what you did or didn’t do in communicating with them. They’re going to lash out at you. Let them.

These families are not really mad at the officials. They’re grieving, and anger is a natural part of the process. Years from now they are going to look back on that night and realize that they behaved irrationally. If you speak to someone shortly after they’ve suffered a loss, don’t take anything they say personally. They are literally out of their minds.

The anger phase of grief is not like ordinary anger. It’s raw. I don’t think that is stated clearly enough when describing it. Most references to it only talk about anger at the person who died, and there’s that…but from my personal experience and watching others go through it that isn’t the whole story. Maybe anger at the person who died comes a little later. Immediately, you’re furious at the telemarketer who calls for the person who died. At the relative who made a comment that you would otherwise brush off. At the official who through a logical chain of events gave you the wrong information for all the right reasons.