The cult of positivity and how it hurts (Archives)

The cult of positivity and how it hurts

Thanksgiving can be hard when you're grieving. It's okay if you don't feel like being thankful this year. - Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

Thanksgiving can be hard when you’re grieving

We can sometimes feel a heavy cultural obligation to find a silver lining in every loss, and to hold onto the adage that there is always something to be thankful for. he truth, though, is that this isn’t always the case.

Notes for the Support Team - Words Matter: Original statement: Look on the bright side. Rewritten: I know that nothing can lessen or make up for this enormous loss, and so I won't try to point you to any bright side. Instead I will simply be here. I'm so sorry for your loss.  -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

Look on the Bright Side

We are conditioned within modern society to look for the silver lining in every crappy day. For some things, this is fine. But when it comes to extreme loss and pain, there often isn’t a bright side.

Notes for the Support Team - Words Matter: Original statement: Let's cheer you up. Rewritten: I understand your grief is heavy right now. I'd like to support you in whatever ways you need. Would you like to tell me about him? Or maybe we can go for a walk. Whatever you need. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

Let’s cheer you up

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.

Forced positivity is toxic.

Forced Positivity is Toxic

Some people do choose to find positivity after loss, and I think that’s great. I think it’s an example of the many ways different people respond differently. But it’s not what I choose. And in my opinion, feelings must be an individual choice.

Original statement: "Positive vibes only." Rewritten: Authentic vibes only. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

“Positive Vibes Only”

“Positive vibes only” sounds like a great message, but it unfortunately acts as erasure of the full emotional spectrum. Authenticity is always preferable.

Dark red flowers in shadow in front of a bright window (Miranda Hernandez)

The Problem With Positivity

We are often told to focus on positive thinking when going into major life changes like having a baby. But I was literally the most positive person possible when I was pregnant with my son, and he still died. Positivity doesn’t prevent tragedy; it only keeps you from preparing for it.

Fog on the ocean in Big Sur, California (Miranda Hernandez)

Sometimes I DO want to give up, and you can’t “fix” that

There’s something that bothers me about this common sentiment of “keep going” or “don’t give up”. It’s sometimes used as a means of silencing those with genuinely dark feelings, instead of listening and being a true help. When someone is feeling suicidal, they need more than simple positivity.

California coast (Miranda Hernandez)

Please stop telling me everything is going to be “fine”

When someone is pregnant after loss, loved ones often rush to promise everything will be “fine.” It’s important to understand how hurtful and often inaccurate this phrase can be. Please focus on reality when talking about my pregnancy after loss.

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