Even in the face of great tragedy, people often feel pressured to put a positive spin on things; to find the silver lining in the dark. I won’t do with you. Sometimes the most meaningful thing anyone can say is, “This fucking sucks.” Because it does.
Acknowledging pain is a powerful thing
Loved ones often want to cheer you up after loss, but sometimes, you don’t want or need to find cheerfulness. Sometimes (often!), you need to just sit and grieve. “Let’s cheer you up” can be hurtful after loss. Acknowledgement is so much more supportive.
“He wouldn’t want you to be sad”—This is ridiculously untrue. Instead of telling the bereaved how to feel, or worse yet, speaking for the deceased, consider honoring both the life and the grief. Like any other authentic emotion, it is ALWAYS okay to be sad, especially after a death.
Simply telling someone not to feel a certain way will never have the desired result. Instead, ask questions about their feelings. Acknowledge and understand without trying to change.
Growing up, I heard the words “be strong” a lot…And maybe this is something I have internalized. This sense of false stoicism, where emotions are suspect.
I think something that isn’t realized about loss is that pain after loss is sometimes important; it’s a measure of the strength of the love that remains. Instead of wanting to remove that pain, consider giving it a place. Listen without judgement. Let your loved one’s complicated feelings exist.
Your words may be awkward. You may stumble. You may stick in your foot in your mouth entirely. It’s still okay. What’s important is that you acknowledge the loss. That you embrace the awkwardness. That you show up anyway.
What you need to understand is that your loved one isn’t there right now; they are here. And here, today, they are hurting. As much as you want to point them to “someday,” it is so much more important to acknowledge where they are, today.
It feels like we are conditioned to look on the bright side of every dark situation, but sometimes there isn’t one. Sometimes, things just need to suck
We’ve always been told that what doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger, but I don’t think this makes sense. Sometimes, the things that don’t kill us immediately still affect us strongly in other ways.
I feel more attuned now, to tragedy. It’s easier to recognize. I know there are things I should say. I should be present and strong. I would never ask someone in tragedy to be strong.