Kindness in Grief

Being kind and respectful to one another. Wow, what a concept. In general, we have a really difficult time with this. In grief, both are painfully absent in many relationships, but this is most obvious in the intimate ones we share with a partner or other close family member. There are a host of reasons for this, but mainly, because no one in a partnership or other family relationship experiences the many symptoms of grief in the same way or time, conflict between loved ones is never far away. Striving for personal balance in all things can seem like an endless search and struggle. It can feel like there’s always something out of whack.

Everyone has the right to be treated with kindness and respect at all times. But if you are struggling with loss right now and as someone in pain, know that you especially have a right and need to be treated with kindness and respect in all of your grief. By everyone! In turn, when you are able (after your most horrendous suffering subsides and you feel stronger), make a conscious effort to hold the intention to always treat others with the same kindness and respect you want and deserve for yourself, which is not only rewarding, but an empowering aid to help further your healing.

The stronger you become and the more you heal from the pain of your loss (highly achievable when you take a keen interest in your grief process), the easier it is to recognize when you are not being treated with the respect and kindness you deserve. Which is a little scary, because when you can recognize that you are experiencing a lack of kindness and respect in any one or more of your relationships, this may be a sign of the need for change. What type of change and the degree to which you need or want it will depend on a number of factors. First and foremost, what you may be required and willing to give up, change about yourself, require from someone else or negotiate as a compromise to get the best outcome.


It’s one thing to support someone you love through their own pain and confusion in grief, where you’re bound to take a few emotional hits now and then. As a griever, you no doubt give them out yourself. But it’s another to let yourself become a punching bag for anyone else’s ongoing mistreatment of you based on their inability or unwillingness to change. Given that we cannot control how others choose to behave, it can become a guessing game trying to determine whether it’s inability through a genuine lack of awareness and understanding, or sheer unwillingness to change that keeps someone doling out unkindness and/or disrespect of anything important to you. This is especially true where honest communication is missing in the relationship.

What makes it even harder to see your way through these difficult relationships, is the fact that many loved ones who act out in passive/aggressive ways or are disrespectful and unkind (perceived or real, you’re feeling it), may be doing so as a reaction to their own grief they don’t understand. Your grief – especially if you are actively pursuing healing and going through a lot yourself – may also be triggering their negative behaviours as your loved one feels more and more threatened by your growth (i.e. their ability to feel safe, secure and loved – all common in grief), which makes for complicated and sometimes really messy situations. What to do?

Here are 9 tips to help:

  1. Take care of you as a priority. This may sound selfish and to some extent it is, but knowing what you want and need (comfort, a hug, a listening ear, support) will help you determine the types of relationships you need and want at all times in your grief, which is critical to your healing.
  2. Know when enough is enough. Be truthful with yourself about what you want and need all of the time. Be willing to make the changes necessary to bring you immediate peace.
  3. Remind yourself that you are not responsible for anyone else’s experiences. Nor are they responsible for yours. You can choose to think and act differently from them.
  4. Where necessary, set boundaries in difficult relationships “until”. You’ll know what these boundaries are when you feel the need to set them. If unsure, follow your heart.
  5. Talk with a trusted confidante to gain some added clarity through any difficult situation. Talking it out often makes things more bearable.
  6. Recognize that some experiences in grief go on and on and on. While these recurring difficulties are trying, stay alert to any positive changes that are happening, especially if your loved one is making an effort to change.
  7. If you feel any hope for an eventual positive outcome, hang onto it. Hope is often a missing ingredient in grief.
  8. Don’t be afraid to change what really isn’t working. If you’ve given something a really good kick at the can, but sense your life needing to go in a new direction, embrace the change. Seek comfort in the faith you have that you’ll be okay. If you feel directionless, listen to any inner nudging guiding you to books, online information, teachers and other resources to help you navigate your way to a whole new way of being. Taking some type of action is always necessary when we are on our way to change, even if to start this is only a change in thought.
  9. Remember to be kind and gentle with yourself and others. Kindness is such a beautiful energy that it will always lead you out of any darkness and difficulty. The instant we decide to be kind, the energy of compassion, respect and love floods our entire being, which is how we were meant to think, act and behave on this planet.

Photos:; “Wolfie” by Vonne Solis