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Monday, March 15, 2010

Bereavement

When reacting to news that someone has lost a loved one, I don't think the question, "Did he/she lead a good life?" is a proper response. Nor is it proper to say, "He/she's in a better place now," or "It's God's will."

Regardless of what people believe about this life or the next, no one wants to be given the message that their pain is not valid. It's not that people don't want to feel better about the situation. Some people may take comfort in those messages, but generally only when the message comes from their own inner peace achieved through the grieving process, and not when it comes from someone outside trying to make it better. Grieving is an important part of healing, and we all deserve that right.

The proper response is only, "I'm very sorry for your loss."

Acknowledgment, validation, but no mitigation.




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4 comments:

heidikins said...

Agreed, with all of this. (And if it is you who have lost someone, I am truly sorry for your loss.)

xox

Sra said...

Thank you. It is not me who lost someone, though. Today I observed someone ask the good life question to someone else who had lost his father, and he seemed visibly injured by it. His answer was a solemn, "I guess so." And the way the inquirer said it was in a sort of, "there, there, focus on the bright side" type of way. But that's insensitive. For one thing, what if he didn't lead a good life (whatever that means)? That might be like rubbing the salts of regret in an open wound. And also, really people just need to have their pain recognized. It's so important.

There are parallels to this argument in the whole Mars/Venus paradigm. Women are often frustrated that men try to fix their problems instead of just listening and validating their concerns, when the listening and validating is usually the solution we need anyway. Men, on the other hand, feel frustrated that we complain about things they can't do anything about, because they are fixers.

With death and other forms of loss, we feel very awkward because there's nothing we can do to fix it, but we try with our good-lifes and better-places and god's-wills. That just misses the point.

heidikins said...

Agreed, with all of this. (And if it is you who have lost someone, I am truly sorry for your loss.)

xox

Sra said...

Thank you. It is not me who lost someone, though. Today I observed someone ask the good life question to someone else who had lost his father, and he seemed visibly injured by it. His answer was a solemn, "I guess so." And the way the inquirer said it was in a sort of, "there, there, focus on the bright side" type of way. But that's insensitive. For one thing, what if he didn't lead a good life (whatever that means)? That might be like rubbing the salts of regret in an open wound. And also, really people just need to have their pain recognized. It's so important.

There are parallels to this argument in the whole Mars/Venus paradigm. Women are often frustrated that men try to fix their problems instead of just listening and validating their concerns, when the listening and validating is usually the solution we need anyway. Men, on the other hand, feel frustrated that we complain about things they can't do anything about, because they are fixers.

With death and other forms of loss, we feel very awkward because there's nothing we can do to fix it, but we try with our good-lifes and better-places and god's-wills. That just misses the point.

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