We also protect each other by not saying things that we know could potentially cause stress or sadness. As a therapist who treats many families going through divorce or a significant loss, I see the elephants that everyone talks about with me but not with one another. In cases of a death of a loved one, I hear mom talking about how much she misses dad but has not said a lot to the kids because she doesn't want to make them hurt any more than they are. I hear the kids say that they think about dad all of the time but don’t want to make mom feel worse. I encourage families to be open and vulnerable with one another about their feelings. For a father going through a divorce to not hide his red eyes and tell his kids that he didn't plan for he and mom to not be together any more. Just because hurt, disappointment and grief are not spoken of does not mean they cease existing. We all know this but we assume our issue is different; our words will hurt or burden “our people”. There is cathartic power in telling your family how sad you are, giving them permission to grieve with you because chances are that they are grieving with or without you.
A true leader in a family is the one who can teach their family that it's a testament of strength to be genuinely "there" with them. If there was more sharing and les "sparing" each other from sorrow, there would be a lot more intimacy between us and "our people" and a lot less money paying therapists’ boat payments. My challenge to you is to sit down over hot cocoa, or a stiff scotch and talk, out loud, to those you love.