Afraid To Talk About It

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Once in awhile, as I was growing up, I’d be in my family circle and an uncomfortable subject would come up. E.g. = I still remember the first time I ever heard the word “pregnant.” My Aunt Odell used the word, saw me sitting there eavesdropping, and slapped her hand over her mouth like she had said a bad word.

When the conversation turned personal, dreary, or embarrassing, my mother would say, “Now, let’s talk about something nice!” So, I learned to swallow my questions and my family rule was “Whatever happens, it’ll go away IF we just won’t talk about it!” (That’s a terrible family rule.)

Maybe you want to raise the subject of death and dying with a friend for your benefit or theirs — but you are afraid to talk about it. It takes a lot of courage to open up about some subjects, but our end of life issues probably head the list. Do YOU have the habit of opening up to anybody about anything?

Everybody is a survivor of something they had rather not talk about. Furthermore, everybody is a survivor (100% of us) because we are still here! Often we don’t want to risk a friendship by revealing our struggles, and by doing so we are missing a blessing. We miss allowing others to bless us and we fail to bless others. The worst thing that can happen when raising a grieving issue is that we make our friends uncomfortable and they abruptly change the subject. The best thing that can happen when one person opens up to another is that it brings us closer together and deepens our relationship.

The German philosopher Goethe said 200 years ago, “Kindness is the golden chain by which society is bound together.” The world is starving to death for this kindness. We need to be alert to the silences of others as well as their attempts to talk about a hard subject. 

(1) Before you open up to others, choose someone who has earned the right. It might be a counselor, minister, or physician. It might be a dear friend. You are looking for someone who has paid their dues and has helped others in similar crises.

(2) Before you open up to others, write your feelings down. When you are allotted a time and place for others to listen, writing down what you are feeling will keep you from wandering off the subject.

(3) Before you open up to others, it is a good idea to do a current self-assessment. How are you eating? (Too much or too little?) How are you sleeping? (Too much or too little? Are you getting enough exercise? (Too much or too little?) You get the idea. 

(4) We who are people of faith have a secret that shouldn’t be a secret. John 11:35 

Don’t abandon your faith at a time when you need it more than ever! 

Don’t be afraid to talk about it.

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Doug Greenway

These blog articles are written by the retired minister and former educator and counselor, Doug Greenway. He'd love to hear from you with your comments, questions, or suggestions for future topics. You may reach Doug at

1 thought on “Afraid To Talk About It”

  1. I am one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and would like to share a scripture. It is found at Revelation 21:3,4. In this scripture God promises to rid the earth of all the terrible things we sees today, including death. This scripture can serve as a comfort for those who have lost loved ones in death.


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