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How to Be Supportive of Unusual Grief

Whenever someone suffers a loss, it's proper to be there for them ... even when you can't relate to or understand why they're grieving. 

By
Richie Frieman,
Episode #398

Case in point was one Modern Manners Guy reader who complained about his sister who cried every day for three weeks when “the love of her life” Paul Walker died. Now, Walker was an amazing actor. I loved him in Varsity Blues, and the Fast series. From what I’ve learned, he was a stand up father and good guy all-around. Still, my reader’s sister did not personally know Walker, or talk to Walker (let alone never saw Varsity Blues for that matter). With that, my reader had a very hard time not getting annoyed when his sister missed his birthday party because she was so distraught. Here, he had every right to be mad at her. I mean, missing a family event because your favorite celebrity passed away weeks ago? That’s a bit much.  Still, as a sibling or friend you have to be respectful of someone’s loss, even when you think it’s a bit dramatic. While I don’t encourage being a shut-in for several weeks over a celebrity death, I do understand that deep devotion. I told him to do what I did; take a day with her and watch a few of her favorite movies together. However, she has to promise to leave the house for lunch/dinner. Here, you are being relatable but also doing your best to get them out of a rut. It’s proper to be there for them, but you can’t let an obsession in the world of fantasy distort a person’s reality. Yes, she can be a fan,  just don’t allow someone’s celebrity obsession ruin their life. 

Tip #3: Loss Of A Sport’s Team

In the early morning of March 29, 1984, just shy of my fifth birthday a very tragic event took place in my hometown; the Baltimore Colts were secretly moved to Indianapolis. Later that day, my city woke up to the news that we no longer had an NFL team. Johnny U, the "Greatest Game Ever Played," all wiped away by the help of several Mayflower trucks, and one lousy team owner. Sure, it’s been over 30 years, and I love our new team, the Ravens, more than anything, but the loss of that day still hurts. Yet football is a business and the owners can do what they please, without caring about the fans. So, I got over it. However, many people in Baltimore still have not. Same thing goes with how certain players leave one city for greener (i.e., money) pastures in another city. For example, when LeBron left Cleveland for Miami, fans were enraged! They burned jerseys, tore down posters, and deemed him the worst human being that ever lived … until he came back and won their first title, and all was forgiven. Man, I love how fans think!

So, whether it’s the loss of a team, a player leaving for a new job, or just a sports team losing in general (Cleveland Browns anyone?), I am always surprised about how people publicly rudely vent their anger over a team. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan; I’m just not insane. Sure, is stinks that LeBron or Kevin Durant leaves a city but it’s their life and their job. You’ll work an average of 35-40 years and have many jobs, whereas athletes have an average of 10 years to do everything they worked for. How can you fault them? Similar to the loss of a celebrity, the loss that is sports team is not the end of the world and with that, you can’t hate someone for causing you pain. To properly honor a team, you have to celebrate the time you had. Don’t throw out the items you paid for. Don’t burn down banners. Ever watch Pawn Stars? That stuff could be worth something. You can’t go ballistic or threaten someone either. Be realistic, folks! Finding a sports team is like finding a partner; if one doesn’t work out, there are always more fish in the sea. Keep calm, and carry on … you know, like a sane person.

As always, if you have another manners question, I look forward to hearing from you at manners@quickanddirtytips.com. Follow me on Twitter @MannersQDT, and of course, check back next week for more Modern Manners Guy tips for a more polite life.

Do you have any recent graduates in your circle, or perhaps someone who is looking to start a new career, check out my new book, Reply All…And Other Ways to Tank Your Career for great tips and advice on job success. It's available now!

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About the Author

Richie Frieman
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