We wall off our world with words.
The ones we speak and the ones we swallow down so they don’t escape our lips.
But, as Mr. Rogers says, “Anything human is mentionable.”
We don’t like to talk about death. It’s unpleasant and frightening and often divisive. We all know it’s coming-no one (except Enoch and Elijah) have left this world any other way. Yet the polite thing to do is pretend it doesn’t exist or at the very least, isn’t likely to happen any time soon.
But that serves no good purpose.
It stops us from having meaningful conversations with those we love as they approach the end of their days. It keeps us from making amends while there is still time, saying the things that need to be said, wrapping up loose ends and frayed relationships.
It stops us from listening to the bereaved. If we get too close and pay too much attention to the aftermath of loss then we have to think about what it really means to live on without someone we love.
And it has shaped a society in which those who grieve too loudly or too long are shushed and shamed.
Refusing to talk about death doesn’t make it disappear.
It only makes it harder to deal with.
The rest of the Mr. Rogers quote is this:
…and anything mentionable is more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.Fred Rogers
Learning the language of loss and lament is part of the healing process in grief.
We’ve never been very good in Western society talking about or dealing with death. And the recent restrictions around traditional rituals associated with saying farewell to loved ones have made it that much more difficult. So many hearts are hurting and have nowhere to go, no one to talk to, no safe refuge for their pain.
If someone trusts you with his or her feelings, receive it as a gift.
Make space for them to be honest about what they are experiencing.
Remind them that “Anything human is mentionable”.
And listen. ❤