Dealing with loss is something that happens to all of us at one point or another, yet no two people do it the same. Different backgrounds, timelines, beliefs…even the coping skills and support system a griever has (or doesn’t have) can determine how they will handle dealing with loss.
But in the days, weeks and months after a loved one has died, a griever may find themselves bombarded with questions, ideas and suggestions, as friends, family, co-workers, neighbors and acquaintances try to offer support or advice.
So let me start by saying that I believe that, in general, people are well-intentioned. Whether that’s actually true or not, I find one of the most peaceful ways to get along in this world is to assume that no one is actually setting out to hurt me or upset me. Can people be misguided in their attempts at help? Absolutely. But are they looking to make things worse or cause more harm? I’d like to think, usually not.
“Should” is a word that a griever may hear more than any other (followed very closely by the word “shouldn’t”).
Why? The people in the lives of a griever often feel helpless. Most of us are no match for these devastating losses and many struggle to find a way to be helpful. Telling a griever what helped them (or their mom, or their neighbor) feel better, and what they therefore “should” do to feel better themselves, may be the only tool the people in the lives of the griever feel they have to offer.
Here’s some examples of the “should”s you may have heard or will hear:
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