One of the hardest parts about grieving is that the people around us who love us, and who care about us, try to help us by giving us advice that is not helpful. Don’t get me wrong, I realize that these are good people with big hearts, but they often do not understand how the process of grief works. We as a culture have been given wrong information.

So often we will hear something like, you have to be strong for the children. This implies that any kind of emotional response is somehow weak.

Or, we will just have to get you a boyfriend. The idea that the love of our life can simply be replaced is actually ludicrous. We do not miss being with a partner; we miss our person. We miss that person.

Or, are you over it yet? This is often asked. Wow, do we ever “get over it”? I would have to say no, it can get easier, less intense, we can move forward and create a new normal, but we will always love our person. The grief will hold a special place in our hearts for our entire lives. We don’t need to get over it; we need to move through it.

Grief is an experience that needs to be lived. We cannot avoid it or push it away. The healthy way is to allow ourselves to feel whatever we need to feel in an environment that feels welcoming with a sense of safeness. There is no timeline in grief and people who try to dictate to you how to feel or how to show up in the world are simply people who don’t understand. We are all different and so our strategies for grieving will be different.

The most helpful way to assist someone who is grieving is to be there and to listen. Advice doesn’t help. We all know this.

So dear grievers, grieve with people who understand. Give yourself permission to be discerning about who you share your grief with. This is sacred and essential work. Be kind to yourself.

Let your advice givers know that their advice is not always helpful and ask them to listen. Then see what happens.

Thank you,

Denise Torgerson
Community Programs