Secondary ‘Blows’ When You're Grieving
Possibly one of the biggest blows of grief is losing friends or family, the ones you thought would show up but didn’t.
Grieving can be an isolating place to be, as you may already be aware, which can be further compounded by others. People can unintentionally cause further, secondary ‘blows’ to you, which can add to your feelings of grief. Here are our top five:
1) ’At least’
Many people don’t know what not to say to someone who is grieving, so after saying ‘I’m sorry’ they feel uncomfortable and carry on talking when perhaps they shouldn’t!
At least they had a long life … (it probably still wasn’t long enough for you).
At least you had time to prepare … (even though you knew death was coming, nothing actually prepared you for how you would feel).
At least you have other children … (there are actually no words for this one, as it’s so hurtful).
At least they’re out of pain… (maybe so,but you’re not).
These phrases can minimise the significance of the loss for you. It’s like saying, “you shouldn’t be that sad.”
2) Pointing out the positives
You can’t ‘positive vibe’ your way out of grief. It might feel tempting to drop-kick anyone telling you to practice gratitude, see the positives, that you’re amazing, that you are stronger than you know, etc, as it can feel like they’re telling you to ignore your real feelings, and ignoring your pain can do more damage than good. However, treating positives, such as moments of joy, as a normal balance to your feelings of sadness is fine!
3) Comparing losses
All grief is unique. Your relationship with that person or experience was unique to you. When someone starts trying to ‘help’ by telling you about their ‘similar’ experience isn’t very helpful. It can turn into a grief competition of whose experience was worse, which doesn’t help anyone. Carry on feeling how you feel.
4) Trying to fix you
Grief is an emotion. You’re not broken. You don’t need a cure. Yet, some think there’s a way to fix your broken heart. “You’ll meet someone else,” “You can try again for a baby,” “Ask the doctor for some antidepressants,” etc, are common ways others try and fix you. In reality, you just need to be heard and have your grief acknowledged.
5) Disappearing acts
Possibly one of the biggest blows of grief is losing friends or family, the ones you thought would show up but didn’t. Unintentionally, people can feel awkward about what to say, so they don’t. And the more time passes, the more awkward they feel about talking to you.
If this is something you’ve experienced and they were important to you, sometimes the best thing to do is pick up the phone to them and reassure them that you’re okay. Even if you’re not, hopefully you’ve got others who are there for you.
Our Grief Specialists are here for you. If you want to talk, hop over to our social media sites and we’re there waiting for you.
Maria Bailey is an Advanced Grief Recovery Specialist based near Torquay, Devon, where she lives with her husband, three children and two dogs. Maria uses the Grief Recovery Method, a short action programme via Zoom, to mainly help people who have lost loved ones to cancer and Covid-19. In her spare time, Maria is also a school governor and preschool chairman.