Losing a loved one is without choice or negotiation. We don’t get to be a part of the decision. The death of a loved one usually blindsides us and then we are forced to try and figure out how to survive the ordeal and a life without them.
Doing the work of grieving and mourning is not light work by any means; however, it is critically important to healing. You cannot sidestep grief or dismiss it. It will linger in the shadows and grab you by the throat at any given opportunity. The only way to get beyond the sorrow is to go through it to the other side.
The bereaved are not the only ones who may attempt to avoid grieving and mourning. Often family and friends will herd them along in an effort to rush them through the process. They don’t want to hear about your pain anymore. They don’t want to see you cry anymore. And they don’t want to talk about your loss anymore. Trust me… this is about them… not you. It speaks directly to their inability to be present to your pain. It demonstrates they have issues around doing the work of healing. It says nothing about you; however, the person who has suffered a loss is made to feel that is they who are in the wrong.
Here are some common things people do to avoid the work of grieving and mourning or do to try to get others to avoid the work are:
- Dismiss someone’s pain by saying things like, “It’s all water under the bridge now… time to move on.”
- Tell the bereaved they shouldn’t talk about their loss so much or that it’s been “six months, you should be over it by now.”
- Insist the bereaved sign up for volunteering, group work or a social activity so they keep busy.
- Dismiss the conversation as soon as it comes up.
- Busy themselves with work or activities so they don’t have to feel the pain or sorrow they are experiencing or so they are not available to loved ones who need support.
Here are some responses to consider using when a person attempts to rush you through the process:
- Grieving is a process, not an event. It is not predictable or orderly and it is not time-specific.
- The only wrong way to grieve is not to grieve.
- My pain may not coincide with your current agenda in life… I am sorry, but I need to work on my own journey and cannot be responsible for yours.
- Your pain and sorry may bring up unresolved grief for them. “Does my grief journey bring up unresolved grief for you? If it does, I will try to be mindful of this when we are together.”