"The overbearing unanimity of this chorus suggests to me that its real purpose is less to reassure than to suppress, to deny the most obvious and natural emotion that attends this occasion, which is sadness."
~ Tim Kreider, NYT Opinionator Blog, 1/20/2013
Someone you love has died. People will tell you need to "move on," "let go" or "get over it" and "be happy." Here is my take on the top five reasons why others want this. Some of it is about you. Some of it is about them.
1. It's painful to watch. It's hard to see someone they care about stuck in pain. They realize they can't make that pain go away. They feel helpless. It is also uncomfortable to watch someone weep or fall apart. They may see you doing some things that are unhealthy. Your loss may bring back painful memories, or fear that they will be in your shoes someday.
2. They don't know what it's like. They don't "get it." Unless they have experienced a similar loss, it can be difficult for them to understand what you are going through. Even if they have had a loss of their own, the circumstances surrounding each loss differ, and the ways individuals deal with loss differ. If their loss happened some time ago, they may have forgotten what it was like in the beginning.
3. It's tedious. It's not much fun listening to someone talk ad nauseam about death and the dead. . (It's not much fun reading this blog either!) They may be bored, or sick of what they view as complaining.
4. They want the "old you" back. They don't realize there is no going back. Your life - and you - will probably never be the same. However, in time, you will arrive at a new normal. Life can be good again. You can grow from this difficult experience, and become a stronger, better, wiser person.
5. They want the best for you. They care about you, and want you to heal. They wish you peace and happiness. They want you to live. The person you lost would probably want the same for you.
"As long as I grieved, I kept her alive. Giving up grief would mean releasing her and letting her fall into the abyss. So I became attached to the grief."
~ Patrick McKenna Lynch Smith, Leaving the Life: A true story of love, loss and gratitude
Actually, it is not necessary to hold on to grief in order to hold on to the one you lost. Coming to terms with loss doesn't mean letting go of the love you had for them, or forgetting them. It does mean allowing yourself to heal, and putting some effort into living again.
6. Maybe it's not about you. Maybe it's about them, or someone else in their life, and the way they did - or did not - deal with loss.
Keep in mind that everyone grieves in their own way, in their own time. In the interim, try to be gentle with others and yourself.
A wound does not destroy us. It activates our self-healing powers. The point is not to "put it behind you" but to keep benefiting from the strength it has awakened.
~ David Richo, How to be an Adult in Relationships
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