To get a bit on context for the following, let me bring you up on the background details: The last years were hard for a co-worker. He had his cats and dog put down; all three of them being in his live for eight to twelve years. A year later his brother commited suicide. Six months after his daughter died of unnatural causes which leave enough room to interpret it as a suicide.
After every event he did not take the time off, he appeared the next working day and his behavior did not betray the impact of any of the blows being dealt to him without knowing about it. Understandibly so, that is not manly, and with the majority of people in their 50s at a blue collar workplace being less than manly isn’t appreciated.
For a long period of time he has been stashing alcohol in his car and places at work (there are enough places at our workplace were one would not consider to look for) and his teeth are starting to fall out. His behavior towards the work itself has become more peculiar as well, but that is not a topic factoring into the actual thing i want to address.
Last week he told me he’s not doing well. He often does that, most of the time when he comes in already drunk; and like every time he started to talk about how the memories of his daughter make it to the front of his mind every now and then and how it hurts.
I already recommended him to go to a therapy or at least to a help group because i’m only able to help him so much.
This time i lost it. Told him i can’t do anything and i have enough of it and that he does not need a co-worker to tell him he understands the severity of his situation but to talk to somebody who made it his profession to help people in such situations.
Loosing a kid is something that i can’t imagine someone to work through, but rather leave a wound that will never heal; one can only try to numb the pain so much. But to be able to hear something more than just “i’m sorry for your loss” must be a thing worth striving for instead of dissapearing into a silent corner to keep the blood alcohol levels high.
His reluctance towards asking for help is understandable, “manly” upbringing and surroundings prevent one from doing that, and there must also be the fear about pulling back the curtain to reveal the full extent of sadness, anger, shame, self doubt, self accusation and perhaps actual or imagined responsibilty that is hidden behind it.
I feel bad for telling him off but in this situation, having had the same conversation time and time before, i was angry about him always going the route of “i don’t want to sound like a know-it-all, BUT” and letting people in on his wisdom without being asked to and now he blocks out me trying to tell him that we are only able to do so much but there are people we can pass the relay on to and that’ll be at his side on this part of the journey.
I told a hurting parent to deal with the death of his kid….
 Which is absolutely ok, help is always appreciated by me, but there is help and there is talking down on people masked by the intention of helping.