The Park

The municipal park has a pond and benches. Many of the benches are dedicated to the memory of other dead people, which will get you in the right frame of mind. Don’t bother with the little plaques giving names and dates and brief homilies, though, as they could distract you from your own private sorrow. Sure, other people have died, but that’s not why you’re here, right? Let’s focus a little. Children play by the pond, which is rounded by concrete and has secure railings. During spring, ducklings follow their mothers across the water and bob endearingly over the rippling wavelets. In winter, the trees are bare. Across from the pond, there is a tarmac area for ball games, surrounded by a high fence. A single laburnum grows alongside the fence. As the summer progresses, its tender yellow flowers push through the mesh of the fence, allowing its pea-like seed pods to drop onto the play area. The seeds inside are highly poisonous, but what with all the processed food kids eat these days, most of them wouldn’t even know to open the pods, let alone eat the seeds.

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The Office

Consider carefully the environment of your office. Open-plan offices are not conducive to outpourings of grief, and even if you have your own private room in the office, you are rarely alone at work. If you cry openly, colleagues will become embarrassed for you. They may increase their distance. They will certainly resent your self-absorption. You used to be a reasonably fun person to have around. Be open but cautious. That simple shoulder squeeze might not necessarily be an expression of sympathy. It might be saying, ‘Buck up!’ It might be saying, ’You’ve had those figures on your desk for two days now. When were you thinking of looking at them?’ On the other hand, the office can be a good place to work through some of your feelings of despair and worthlessness, if you really decide to apply yourself at this time. Workaholism is a common by-product of grief that, while not compensating for your loss, can make you feel a whole lot better about yourself.

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The Bar

Don’t sit alone at a table; that’s sad. There’s people intent on having actual fun — and willing to spend a lot more than you on drinks to do it — want to sit at that table. Sit instead at the bar. They won’t notice you there. People are talking to themselves, or else talking to the bartender who is casually ignoring them. Warning: in films and on television, grieving and heartbroken people often find strength and support from a bartender, who listens somberly while cleaning a glass or wiping down the bar top. In reality, these people are underpaid and very busy, and anyway, they have dishwashing machines to take care of the glasses. Don’t keep selecting sad songs from the jukebox all night. Listen to the happy, party atmosphere songs other people play. Life goes on around you. Don’t try talking to the suited members of staff in the toilets who hand out the paper towels. They are there to stop people taking drugs in the cubicles and are unlikely to be very good listeners. They might help you if you collapse in your own vomit, but that help will be limited to assisting you to the back entrance of the bar. Don’t talk to other drinkers who approach you while seated at the bar. Their stories are likely to worse than yours.