Tell me if you’ve heard something like these: “Are you STILL crying for that cat?” “You STILL go to the cemetery every week?” “You STILL have his clothes in the closets?” “You STILL haven’t fill in the blank?” ….
When someone uses the word STILL in relation to your grieving, they are judging you. Plain and simple. It can feel like a betrayal, like they don’t understand how hard it is for you day in and day out. And then we try to justify or minimize our behavior to them. “I know she was JUST a cat, but I can’t seem to stop crying. I know it’s silly….”. Or “I keep meaning to get to those closets, but always find something else to do…”. Or excuse, excuse, excuse. I’m here to say that you don’t have to defend your behavior. You don’t have to justify or minimize why something is a challenge for you. Those “still” statements are about them, not about you! They are uncomfortable with your grief and want you to return to who you were, or do things the way they think things should be done on their time frame. Stop the insanity!!!
Instead, come up with a couple of memorized phrases that will diffuse the situation for you. This is not about making them feel comfortable with your behaviors or your grief, but disarming their power over you in those moments. “Yes. I’m still crying. Bootsy was like a child to me.” Period. No excuse. “No. I haven’t cleaned out the closet yet. It’s very emotional for me and I’ll get to it when I’m ready.” Period. No excuse. “Yes, I visit the cemetery every week. I feel peace when I’m near the grave.” Period. No excuse. These responses are not excuses, but short, direct explanations. If this person can’t accept that, then maybe a break from them is in order. Your grief is your own. The pace of your grief is your own. And no one – NO ONE – has the right to judge you or suggest you are doing it wrong.
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Copyright 2014 Lisa B. Wolfe, Translating Grief, LLC