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“You have to be very gentle with people in mourning”

After telling in Two small steps on the wet sand and A particular day the illness that killed her two daughters, the author is releasing a new book devoted to consolation (1).

The cross : How can we console? What was it that consoled you yourself?

Anne-Dauphine Julliand: Basically, it suffices to agree to approach the person who is crying, to enter the perimeter of the pain. It often seems very difficult, we don’t feel capable of it, we say to ourselves that we should be able to find incredible formulas, almost magic words. However, it is often simple things that do good: being there, saying “I’m thinking of you”. It is enough to console as we are and with what we have, including our weaknesses.

→ READ. How to deal with grief as a family?

For example, the anniversary of the birth of my daughters is always painful for me. Last year, I was with my family the day Azylis was born. I stood up loose because I had thought about the happiness of his birth and that the memory of this happiness hurt me. One of my sisters threw herself into my arms to kiss me, the other was more in restraint. My mother, who was in the next room, texted me because she was very distressed and was afraid of being clumsy. My dad just patted me on the cheek. It did me good, because I recognized each of them in their gesture of consolation.

Your book is also an invitation not to hide your pain …

A.-DJ: Mourning has disappeared from society and with it the grief of the bereaved. I understood this when my grandmother decided to mourn my daughters. Me, that had never crossed my mind. I wore black because it was fashionable, that’s all. But I understood that by putting on a mourning dress, she was saying to the whole world this beautiful sentence: “Don’t shake me because I’m full of tears” or, in other words, “I am in a difficult moment, help me”.

→ MAINTENANCE. Anne-Dauphine Julliand: “The disease seems quite remote from me, but what do I know? “

This book is the reverse of the sanitized world that is ours. It is a plea for tears, for touch, for comfort. Because we can be strong in life, one day we will be totally shaken by the death of a loved one, starting with that of our parents. Each one, one day, will therefore experience this need for the other and for his consolation. So, a few days ago, I met a lady who was mourning the loss of her mother, who was probably a hundred years old. I found it very beautiful. For my part, I claim the right to cry almost every day and to need others to alleviate my pain.

When are we consoled?

A.-DJ: When we have reached a form of appeasement. I think that the great pains, those that it is difficult to approach, do not disappear but that they subside. It happens when we have tamed the absence and the suffering generated by the absence. We continue to love and to suffer, but the pain no longer colonizes all life. This takes time. That’s why you have to be very gentle with people who are in pain. When you feel obligated to move on, to be well or to “succeed” in your grief – an expression that I hate – you cannot be consoled.


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