How to Handle People Rushing You Through Mourning
Coping with a loss is one of the hardest times in a person’s life. Unfortunately, when the people around you are insensitive to your pain, it only complicates matters. Feeling pressured by friends and family to move on after losing someone can cause you to suppress your feelings, which can extend the grieving process even further. Deal with those who try to speed up your grief by communicating your needs, effectively feeling and coping with the loss, and seeking empathetic support.
Talking to Others About Your Grief
Have patience when offered empty platitudes.Everyone alive will experience a devastating loss at some point in their lifetime. Yet, despite its ubiquitous nature, most people have no idea how to comfort someone who is grieving. If you feel you are being rushed through your mourning process, loved ones or casual acquaintances have probably made the mistake of offering you predictable, clichéd statements in hopes of easing your pain.
- People may say things like “You need to get on with your life” or “He/she would want you to be strong” that send the message that your grief is time-sensitive.
- It will probably be challenging, but resist the urge to snap back or get annoyed with people who express their condolences this way. Know that at the heart of it, they feel awkward and helpless in the face of your pain. They just want to help.
Explain that everyone grieves differently.It can be confusing to onlookers who see one person bounce back easily from a loss while another struggles to handle everyday obligations. If your emotional suffering is protracted, it may help to shed light on the very unique and individual nature of grief to those around you.
- You might say, “Grief is very different for everyone who experiences it. Sometimes, depending on how close you were to the person, the severity of your mourning is even greater. For some people, it may not be. Please respect that I am grieving in my own way—the best way I know how.”
- It may even be practical to provide some resources about grieving to those closest to you. Reading up on the highly personal process of mourning can prompt those who rush you to ease up and let your grief happen naturally.Grief often happens in stages, but grieving can be a very different experience from one person to another. It may last a lifetime for some people, while other people only grieve for a short time. There is no one-size-fits-all grieving process.
Tell them what you need from them.Another helpful way to deal with people who try to rush you through the grieving process is to give them an assignment. Keep in mind that they may offer empty platitudes because they only want to help, but don’t know how. Give them some direction in regards to what you need.
- Try saying, “I know you’re only trying to help, but I feel like you are rushing me to grieve. Can you help me in some other way? I need some time alone, but not too much. Can you come and sit with me a few hours each week? We can watch TV or movies, or simply read in each other’s company. I just would like to know someone else is there. Is that okay?”
Make a list to let people know how they can help you.In some cases, people may just not know how to help you. You may want to make a list of things you would like them to say and do to help you feel better. On this list, you might include:
- "I am here to help you in any way I can."
- "You are in my thoughts and prayers."
- "I am always just a phone call or email away."
- "I am here for you."
- Or you can even write things like “give me a hug,” “help me with errands or some daily tasks,” or “just sit and be present with me in person.”
Coming to Terms with Your Grief
Feel the pain.Bottling up your feelings won’t help you mourn. Don’t listen to others who say you should just “be strong.” Acknowledging all the emotions that come with your loss is essential to the grieving process.
- Express your feelings however it comes natural to you. Shout into a pillow. Sit in a dark corner and cry for an hour.
- If you don’t have anyone who will let you do this in their presence, take some time alone. Feeling all the horrible emotions that accompany your loss is the best way to gradually move through the pain.
Perform a closure ritual.One method to express and move through your grief is by performing rituals. A simple ceremony can be a powerful way to gain closure about a loss and mark the beginning of a new chapter.
- Attending a funeral or memorial service is a common ritual that allows loved ones to mourn the deceased and celebrate their life. In addition, you can write a letter telling the person you loss how much you miss them and, perhaps, sharing some words that you never got to say. Then, you might toss the letter in their grave after the burial, or let it float out to sea.Another option is to place a letter to your loved one in their casket or on an altar that you have made for them.
- You may also consider keeping a memento of the person’s with you at all times so that you can pull it out in moments of pain and sadness. For example, you could keep a piece of the person’s jewelry or a watch, or even a favorite trinket. This may help to ease the pain and comfort you.
- Keep in mind, some types of grief may are more resistant to finding closure. For instance, if you a parent died, it’s improbable that a ritual—or anything—will bring you closure from such a major loss.However, performing a ceremony is an intentional way to heal and move forward after the loss.
Develop and stick to a routine.Having some semblance of structure and normalcy after a loss can help you adjust and move forward as you learn to manage your grief. It’s important, however, to avoid overdoing it. Create a feasible schedule that offers structure, but also be sure to take it easy.
- For example, you might strive to get up each morning, exercise, and make yourself a healthy breakfast before school or work. When your work or school day is complete, you might only have energy to lie on your couch, but you will feel more positive after completing some structure-based activities earlier in the day.
Manage stress effectively.The intense emotions that accompany a loss can take a toll on mental and physical health. You may have trouble sleeping, experience little desire to eat regular meals, and withdraw from friends and family.By building a stress-coping toolkit, you can counteract these negative effects and nourish your body and spirit as your grieve. You might include coping skills such as:
Recognize when you need help.There is no set time-frame that is appropriate for mourning. It is a highly individual process. Still, if you find that your grief doesn’t seem to lift slightly over time, or you have trouble performing your daily activities, you may need to seek professional help. Grief or bereavement counselors are specially trained to help people navigate the confusing adjustment period that follows a significant loss. These counselors offer a safe, impartial environment where you can express your feelings and learn effective ways of coping with grief.Some things to watch for include:
- Thinking about suicide or making plans.
- Wishing you had died with your loved one.
- Feeling guilty or to blame for the loss of your loved one.
- Increased isolation and not wanting anyone to be around you.
- Feeling numb and disconnected, and/or having an out of body experience as if the world is moving on without you and you are just watching from outside your body.
- Having decreased ability to function with your normal daily tasks.
Finding Empathetic Support
Participate in a support group.Although members of a bereavement support group may not intimately know your loss, they may be feeling similarly. Participating in a support group can give you consolation when others in your life are pressuring you to speed up your grieving.
- You can talk to your grief counselor for suggestions about support groups in your area, or you can search online for supportive communities.
- You may be able to find a support group at a local church, at a mental health clinic, or by contacting a social worker at a hospital.
Seek spiritual consolation.If you believe in a higher power, it can help to lean into your spirituality as you grieve. Many people find that their spirituality is a major source of comfort and support as they navigate the aftermath of a major loss.
- Depending on what spirituality means to you, you might find consolation through walking in nature, attending religious services, volunteering and helping others, praying or meditating, seeking spiritual counsel, or reading a sacred book.
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