I was working with a woman who was recently widowed. It was still early in her grieving, having lost her husband only three months prior to our session. The fog had somewhat cleared and she had begun the roller coaster ride of emotions. One good day, one not so good and one awful day! And the cycle continued.
I asked, “How are you feeling now?”
She mused silently, trying to put into words what she had been feeling most recently. Then in a louder tone than usual she said,
“It’s them, not me!”
“Who are ‘they?’” I asked.
“Everyone!” she replied.
“Can you tell me who ‘everyone’ is?”
She continued, explaining that the expectation that she be “okay” was putting so much pressure on her.
“It’s worse this month than it was last month,” she shared.
“Everyday is a new experience with grief,” I explained.
“Well, they don’t get it and it’s upsetting me that I can’t have my grief!”
We need to own our grief; it’s part of the healing process. The expectations of others that we’re over it, or should be, are their issue. They don’t want to hear about your grief perhaps because they cannot themselves bear to see you sad anymore. You see, they have gone back to their unchanged life.
Our friends and family are well meaning but have never been taught about grief, the emotions experienced during it or what the correct and supportive things are to say when someone is grieving.
We’ve all experienced, after a loss, the ridiculous statements made in an attempt to make us feel better. Have you been told:
“Don’t’ be sad.”
“It will be ok.”
“You’ve got to get on with your life.”
“It’s better this way; he’s no longer suffering.”
“I understand; my dog died.”
I could go on and on with what I have heard over the years that has been said to widows, and others who are grieving a loss. Share your comments on what you’ve been told since being widowed that could have provoked you to haul off and sock them! We do forgive them their ignorance.