Do people tell you how you should grieve?

Phoenix

Senior Member
Location
U S
...and/or are they insensitive about it? This last year and a half I lost 8 people I care about. It happens as we get older. Turns out our contemporaries are getting there too. Imagine that. 4 of them were important to me, mostly family. 4 of them were family members of my second husband. I had not seen them in years, but it still affected me when they passed. I learned about them through the internet when I was looking up something else. Recently the neighbor across the road - I live in a rural setting - wanted to know if I would like to have one of their kittens. Covid 19 had interfered with her getting her cat fixed, she said. I told her no because I might not live long enough to take care of it until it passed away, and there was no one I knew who would take care of it, if my husband and I were gone. I mentioned briefly that I had lost the 8 people and that my cat of 19 years had recently passed. She said, "That's no way to live. You can find new friends." I was appalled by her lack of sensitivity and selfishness. I had not told her who my losses were. I've known her for 25 years. Now I know for certain who she is. I've suspected it for years. I'm managing my losses. I work it through. But.... Bottom line, no one should tell anyone how to grieve. Make gentle suggestions, yes. As my mom always said, if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.
 

Not sure who this is aimed at but when someone tries to help they're not trying to be mean. Or insensitive. But if we can't respond to things on here without being made to feel bad for it then what's the point of being on here?
 

asp3

Member
I'm sorry for your losses. I would say that your neighbor's response was very tone deaf and insensitive but I don't think it was mean spirited. It's probably how your neighbor lives and navigates the world. I also think it was probably coming from a good place in your neighbor's heart that wants to see you happier.

However you know your neighbor more than I could ever imagine to, so you probably have better insight into why your neighbor said what she did. You seem to have a good sense of what you need to do for yourself. I'd just do what you feel is right for you.
 

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Keesha

❤️🇨🇦❤️
I think sometimes people don’t know how to respond and that was her way of saying ‘that’s not fair. You deserve friends.’ Some people don’t know how to cushion the things they say appropriately. I’m probably one of them. Also I think when people are hurting from loss, their perspective is somewhat off balance and it’s easy for them to take things the wrong way.


You are the only one who knows the right way to grieve for you. Sorry for your losses. That must be really difficult to handle.
 

Phoenix

Senior Member
Location
U S
Original Poster
The point of this post if to create understanding. It's not aimed at any one here. She is a bulldozer. She beat up her husband, literally. She had a restraining order out on her for a while. She runs over people. She just wanted to get me to take a kitten. That's not the issue. The issue is that people need to be treated with kindness. I'm doing okay. Thanks.
 

Judycat

Senior Member
Location
Pennsylvania
I know what you mean. People feel they must say something. My husband died and all an old friend could say is I have to get rid of my cats. Various other people insisted I should get rid of my house, and after my daughter committed suicide, one stupid woman could only say, what a waste. I was astonished at the number of women who felt death would never visit their loved ones because they were living right, unlike me apparently. Our culture doesn't do death well. So sorry for your losses, take as long as it takes to grieve.
 

Phoenix

Senior Member
Location
U S
Original Poster
I know what you mean. People feel they must say something. My husband died and all an old friend could say is I have to get rid of my cats. Various other people insisted I should get rid of my house, and after my daughter committed suicide, one stupid woman could only say, what a waste. I was astonished at the number of women who felt death would never visit their loved ones because they were living right, unlike me apparently. Our culture doesn't do death well. So sorry for your losses, take as long as it takes to grieve.
True, our culture does not deal well with death. It is true people feel they themselves are exempt. Now, I understand not knowing what to say, especially when one is younger. This lady's daughter was killed when someone hit her when she was riding her bike, long before I met the woman. She is now 61. She should have gained some kind of understanding by now. I was wrong. When she said to me that's no way to live. I said, "It would be irresponsible for me to take in an animal who would not have someone when I died." She did not say that she would be willing to take the cat back if that happened.

With the neighbor her statement was not part of a conversation. It was yelled at me from across the yard.

I'm actually okay now. It does come back at times, but I found a way to let it go. Losses are cumulative. So are the effects. Dealing with them is a learned skill, and each of us has to find our way through it, the way that works for us.

Are you okay now?
 

Phoenix

Senior Member
Location
U S
Original Poster
I learned a long time ago a person should say, I am sorry for your loss", then shut up. Because the next thing the person will say is stupid an/or hurtful.
Good point. I've learned to say that too, if I'm talking to the person with the loss.
 

bowmore

Member
I just remembered when I was active on a grief recovery site, they had a section called "Stupid things people would say". It was incredible! It was pages long!
 

Phoenix

Senior Member
Location
U S
Original Poster
I just remembered when I was active on a grief recovery site, they had a section called "Stupid things people would say". It was incredible! It was pages long!
I know that people can mean well and say exactly the wrong thing. I remember a time when I didn't know what to say, but as you said before, I'm sorry for your loss works. Mostly the people I knew, when I really needed them to step up and say something that simple, simply didn't respond at all. They don't like to be confronted with their lack of compassion, even years later. The only way someone like that learns is to have to go through the losses themselves.
 

Ruthanne

SF VIP
Location
Earth
...and/or are they insensitive about it? This last year and a half I lost 8 people I care about. It happens as we get older. Turns out our contemporaries are getting there too. Imagine that. 4 of them were important to me, mostly family. 4 of them were family members of my second husband. I had not seen them in years, but it still affected me when they passed. I learned about them through the internet when I was looking up something else. Recently the neighbor across the road - I live in a rural setting - wanted to know if I would like to have one of their kittens. Covid 19 had interfered with her getting her cat fixed, she said. I told her no because I might not live long enough to take care of it until it passed away, and there was no one I knew who would take care of it, if my husband and I were gone. I mentioned briefly that I had lost the 8 people and that my cat of 19 years had recently passed. She said, "That's no way to live. You can find new friends." I was appalled by her lack of sensitivity and selfishness. I had not told her who my losses were. I've known her for 25 years. Now I know for certain who she is. I've suspected it for years. I'm managing my losses. I work it through. But.... Bottom line, no one should tell anyone how to grieve. Make gentle suggestions, yes. As my mom always said, if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.
Did you ever think she may have had good intentions but just not the right words that you needed to hear? I realize you are feeling raw from the grief and I'm sorry you've lost so many. I recall back when I lost loved ones that I was so "raw" that what others said made me really angry. But looking back I realize some don't know the right things to say but do have good intentions.
 

Judycat

Senior Member
Location
Pennsylvania
True, our culture does not deal well with death. It is true people feel they themselves are exempt. Now, I understand not knowing what to say, especially when one is younger. This lady's daughter was killed when someone hit her when she was riding her bike, long before I met the woman. She is now 61. She should have gained some kind of understanding by now. I was wrong. When she said to me that's no way to live. I said, "It would be irresponsible for me to take in an animal who would not have someone when I died." She did not say that she would be willing to take the cat back if that happened.

With the neighbor her statement was not part of a conversation. It was yelled at me from across the yard.

I'm actually okay now. It does come back at times, but I found a way to let it go. Losses are cumulative. So are the effects. Dealing with them is a learned skill, and each of us has to find our way through it, the way that works for us.

Are you okay now?
To be honest, sometimes I feel like I died with my daughter and my body just has to catch up. My husband's death hit me hard because it was unexpected but I am dealing with it. People and their comments don't bother me anymore at least. Thank you for asking.
 

Pecos

Senior Member
Location
South Carolina
Phoenix

It would be extremely tough to lose so many loved ones in such a short period. I would feel crushed. You have my deepest sympathy! I am very sorry for your loss.

That woman is terribly insensitive but she does not represent humanity. Here on this forum you are supported by people who know you for the kind and thoughtful person that you are, we care about you.
 

Wren

Well-known Member
Location
Europe
The point of this post if to create understanding. It's not aimed at any one here. She is a bulldozer. She beat up her husband, literally. She had a restraining order out on her for a while. She runs over people. She just wanted to get me to take a kitten. That's not the issue. The issue is that people need to be treated with kindness. I'm doing okay. Thanks.
So sorry for your losses Phoenix, going by your description of your neighbour I wouldn’t listen to a word she says, and avoid her in future

Look after yourself 🌺
 

Phoenix

Senior Member
Location
U S
Original Poster
Did you ever think she may have had good intentions but just not the right words that you needed to hear? I realize you are feeling raw from the grief and I'm sorry you've lost so many. I recall back when I lost loved ones that I was so "raw" that what others said made me really angry. But looking back I realize some don't know the right things to say but do have good intentions.
She had no intentions other than to get me to take one of her cats. Thanks for the thought though.

Judycat, I'm glad you are okay. I understand as best I can about you dying when your daughter died. I felt that way when my boyfriend suddenly died of cancer when I was 45. With both your daughter and your husband, it must have been and in someways still is devastating. Like a hole opened up below you and you are standing directly above the abyss. I'm learning to adjust. It's a life lesson. My grand aunt Lottie, who lived to be 97, said that sometimes all the losses ganged up on her. She was the most well-adjusted person I have ever known. She had a sparkle about her, an inner spirit that refused to be extinguished.

Treacle, that's an excellent poem, that says it like it is. Thank you.

Wren, thank you. I am avoiding her. I basically have for years. The way not to get mud on oneself is to stay away from the mud.

Pecos, thank you. I'm adjusting. I adapt something Aunt Lottie said after she fell at age 65 and broke her hip. "They told me I was quit, that I'd never walk again. They don't know me. I don't quit."

Thank all of you for your comments and reactions.
 


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