This post was supposed to be about the dark and the positive sides of the grieving process.
But I have decided to write instead about the negative people that come into your life during your grieving process, how you identify them, how you mute and eventually remove them from your life, if the negativity becomes unbearable.
As you might know, if you have been following my blog for a while, last week I got quite a nasty email from a relative telling me how to grieve, trying to make me feel guilty about the way I choose to remember “my second born” and how my grieving, in all its mess and intensity, is affecting my family. I decided to blog about it in the hope that it will be a lesson, first for the person in case and then, for relatives who are genuinely trying to help a grieving parent but don’t know what are the wrong or the right things to be said or done in such a sensitive situation.
I hoped this episode will end with my reply and possibly with my blog post.
But oh well, surprise, surprise, it hasn’t…
So, here is what I learned and encourage other grieving parents to be aware of:
1. Some people just have to make EVERYTHING about themselves. No matter that your child has died and you want to be left alone, you will receive unrequested advice, shoved down your throat in the “most loving of ways” and when you politely reply denying any assistance, you will be told that YOU are playing the victim. That you “hold on to your grief as a badge of honor and’ you’re suffering more than Christ himself, and more than His mother'”. Yes, she really said that…
2. Some people just have to have the last word. It doesn’t matter if that word cuts you to the bone and leaves you for dead. So, again, quote from “Hemingway, who had many tragedies in his life worth noting: “Forget your personal tragedy; We are all bitched from the start and you especially have to be hurt like hell before you can write seriously. But when you get the damned hurt use it-don’t cheat with it.” So, yes, if you can’t get your point across, just destroy people’s illusions of being gifted as writers, as they are not Hemingway, at the end of the day, so bitch it!
3. Some people never grow up. You would be surprised to know this email doesn’t come from a teenager in body. But hey, in my perception, some people never mature in mind and experience so everything that life throws at them, they approach it as they did as teenagers. Full stop.
4. Some people are so miserable they have to make your life miserable too. Or imply your life is as miserable as theirs. We haven’t seen this relative for a whole year and a half or so. She lives nowhere near us. And yet, and yet, she knows how I live, how I treat my family, the ins and outs of our privacy. Psychic gifting, I suppose.
5. Some people just can’t handle themselves around pain. So they will avoid it at any price. Even relationships get traded in the equation, as it is easier to be lonely and self-righteous rather than open and vulnerable and accountable for hurtful outbursts.
6. Some people need to “fix” your life. And diagnose you. And label you. And degrade you. From a distance. And it says so much about you as a person, right?
This is the second time this happens to me with Greek women. I know not all Greek women are the same. And that it is most likely a personal trait, rather than a cultural one.
But hey, what’s with the labeling? How do you know I have “self-destructive” relationships, how can you tell “I allow my grief to toss me about and drive me to make choices that do not free me-do not allow my grieving to help me and heal me-it’s almost like you want to harm myself“, when we don’t even live in the same country, when you don’t know my friends, when you haven’t even talked to my husband in months? How on earth can you tell? Oh, the psychic gifting again, of course…
7.Some people feed, live, breathe controversy. They like to create waves. Antagonize people. Stand out. Hurt others for the sake of getting their own voice heard.
8. Some people just make everything into a general lesson of life. If I let you read the emails received, you will notice that the advice given is very general. It is from a text book for a text book person. Not acknowledging in any way that grief and its expression is very personal and very varied.
Now, let me tell you this, grieving parent, mourning includes anger, pain, depression, shouting, giving off to God, feeling sick with life and with people. It is okay to feel all of these at once, for a long time, or separate. It is okay to express them as well. Cry, shout, throw things around, go and get counseling if you feel like it, ask for anti-depression pills if you think you need them, fill your house with reminders or strip it of them, as you see fit.
Because let me tell you something, grieving parent. You are entitled to wear your pain in any way you need to. As a badge. As a shield. As a banner. As a starting or finishing line.
Don’t let people feed crap into your life. Your pain is enough crap to be handled for a lifetime.
Free yourself from people who just don’t get it and surround yourself with people that do. My next blog post will speak about them, the wonderful support network I have created and am very grateful for.