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2nd September 2018

Telling new people about your grief

This is definitely one of those weird grief things that people don’t speak about enough. How do you tell a brand new person about your grief?

A challenge I’ve started to face over the last few months when meeting lovely new people is feeling like I’m sat with my hand clutched over a closed bag that I’m not entirely sure how to explain.

Telling people things is something I’m used to. Being a queer lady means that I regularly have to come out to new people. I’ve learnt to sniper it in after a few weeks, or drop subtle (or not subtle) hints until it comes up in conversation, or wear loads of Keith Haring artwork. I can bring it up using a pronoun when discussing dating and sigh with relief when the other person doesn’t bat an eyelid. Then it’s done and dusted.

Grief is often the other thing that I’ll be wondering when to bring up. It’s not that I necessarily want to, it’s more that people talk about their parents a LOT, and share intimate stories a lot – and grief is a formative experience for me. Coming out/dealing with grief are my two life biggies.

Doesn’t that just sound a bit fun spongey? ‘Oh God, it’s that girl who is weighed down by the world’. I don’t want to be that person (and I don’t tell EVERYONE I meet, that would be intense) – but it makes me so acutely aware of my actions and how I approach a new person.

It also makes it pretty hard to let people in. I have a very good support system and friends that I rely on for specific things. They know how to deal with my shit. They’ve got anniversaries down. They’ll make beautiful references to my Mum exactly when I need them. We’ve been through all of this together and they’re essentially my blockade of ace people. So letting more people into that? Not easy most of the time. How do I connect them to my Mum in a non-weird way? Or explain how it has made me a better person, and that’s why I can deal with so much?

I say all of this like I’m about to write a paragraph that solves it. I don’t have the answer to this one. Maybe as I get older, it’s something I’ll get used to. The last time I explained my situation was to a lovely (lovely!) bunch of writers very late at night when it felt like a natural and safe space to do so. They were dead nice – and most people are dead nice. It’s just a lot to bring up in conversation.

It isn’t that I want people to feel sorry for me, it’s that I want to share who I am and then cheerfully crack on with those people treasuring that knowledge. Like when someone tells you they travelled for a year and it changed their life. I lost a parent and it changed mine. It’s part of who I am.

If anyone does have amazing ways that they deal with this, then feel free to share in the comments.

2 responses to “Telling new people about your grief”

  1. Carly says:

    Eeeee! Our Meg. Feels like you’re writing for all of us xxx
    Very well written as always xx
    Carly

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