And the Award goes to… (part 2)

My Dear Community,

Last week’s blog post titled, And the Award goes to…, touched deep nerves. Many wrote in and shared the hurtful words people said after the death of a loved one. I’m saddened by the insensitive and rude things people say. But also, warmly affected by the caring words spoken by others.

Why did I ask you to share the hurtful things said?

So we can be free.

After experiencing a huge loss, we turn to our community expecting comfort. It’s part of being human and belonging to a tribe. Unfortunately, not everyone knows how to give us their supportive presence.

Instead, they want to “fix” us. I think they don’t know what to do with our grief. They feel an uncomfortable dissonance that blocks them from giving solace. People say things without thinking. Insensitive and rude things.

And, their hurtful remarks can lodge in our hearts. Wounding piles onto our grief. Offenses fester and compound our isolation if we let it.

Some thoughts about getting free:

• Acknowledge that the words you heard were hurtful.
• Realize the words spoken to you reveal more about the person speaking and have less to do with you.
• Own your grief process. It’s ok to experience your emotions.
• Reframe your negative thoughts.
• Accept that we’re all human and don’t always respond or communicate well.
• Forgive and release.

Thank you to all who gave their time and energy to share their experiences. I’m convinced even more that our culture needs a shift in how we approach grief. We need the tools and training for how to support those who grieve.

Love all around, above, below, to the left and to the right, before you and behind you,

Georgena

Comments people shared.

Hurtful words said:

1. Georgena, I wanted to share the most painful remarks that, oddly enough, still bother me 33 years later!…

• A young man said to me, just two weeks after my mother died, “I was sorry to hear about your mom. But you’re over that now, aren’t you?”

• One of the teachers at the school where I worked approached me the week my mother died. She started out saying she was sorry to hear about mom. Then, in a scolding voice, she said that I had, “no right to grieve because my mother was about her same age (65) and had lived a good long life. Now your mom is in heaven, happy, and out of pain. You don’t have the right to be sad.”

I just sat there stunned. How could someone who didn’t even know my mother (or me either) actually scold me and tell me I had no right to grieve? Especially when I had never spoken a word to her about my mother or what I was feeling.

2. A friend lost her father a few years after I lost my parents. She told me her, “grief was worse than mine because at least I knew my parents were in heaven.”

I said I really didn’t know where my parents were and didn’t realize we were in competition about whose grief was most painful.

Kindnesses remembered:

3. Georgena, I most remember the love and care of two friends. They too had lost their mother years before. My friends sat with me for hours, sharing my grief, not trying to console me—just sweetly loving me, and listening to me, and fearlessly taking part in my pain, and at times sharing their own. That is what I still carry in my heart. I will be forever grateful for them. Their genuine support helped get me through those awful first weeks and following months.

Other thoughts:

4. My mom passed October 26, 1997. Besides watching Oscars together, we always called each other if there was a big life event. Two months before she died, Princess Diana died. My partner and I were watching a movie when the news report came on. I turned to Doug and said, “I need to call my mom.” He replied, “Why?” “Because tonight I can,” I said.  Whenever there’s a world event like that, I always think of mom.”

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