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Facing the Grief Bully
In the December issue of Out on a Limb, the focus was on holiday-related shoulds. Another particularly damning should is some version of this:
“You should be over this by now.”
We say this to ourselves, and we hear or sense it from others. It may be about grieving the loss of a person or pet, a relationship, a job, a privilege, financial comfort, or anything else. Why not reply back to yourself or the person sending you this message, “Says who?” To the best of my knowledge, there is no rule book that universally states the correct amount of grieving time for any loss. “Says who?” may seem a bit flippant but perhaps this is what is needed when we are under the influence of an oppressive should. You may need to challenge the apparent authority of your oppressor, even if it is some part of yourself! This is about not letting yourself be bullied.
A lot of people don’t like to talk about death or loss. They complain that it is a downer. They would much rather turn the focus of attention back to joyful topics. Hence, the overt or covert should messages. It is much easier to make you wrong for not being “over it” yet than it is for the oppressor/bully-type to acknowledge their own discomfort. Perhaps the wisdom expressed in the following will embolden you:
The sorrow which has no vent in tears may make other organs weep. ~Henry Maudsley
Time is a physician that heals every grief. ~Diphilus
Grief expressed is freeing and grief held in only makes us want to join
the dead ...in trying to protect ourselves, we hurt ourselves further. ~ Mark Nepo
If you resonate with the above quotes, perhaps you will conclude that to stay present with grief is actually a healthy decision. When you get flak for not being “over it,” trust that going through it, even if it takes a while, is actually a more rapid path back to joy and wellbeing.