This is usually witness Wednesday here on the blog. And today, it still is. Check the bottom of this post for how this space will change after this week.
I was reading a post over on Manifest-Station (great site, btw – check it out if you don’t know it already). All of a sudden, a ticker tape of the weird things people said to me in the first months after Matt died started running through my head.
I swear – grieving people are on the receiving end of so many ridiculous comments. What’s even more challenging is that if we even mention how bizarre or non-helpful these statements are, we are almost always reprimanded: these people mean well. You have to look at the intentions behind their words.
Right. So we both have to listen to these weird, insensitive things AND we aren’t allowed to say how we feel about them. Can’t correct people, therefore bizarre, weird things keep coming.
Grief. So tricky.
Here’s my list of weird things people said, as it runs through my mind right now. In the comments, please send in your own top ridiculous statements that were directed to you. Don’t worry about being corrected for not appreciating the “intention” behind the words. We can manage both: compassion for other peoples’ bumbling, but meaningful hearts, AND have great boundaries around what is and is not okay. Because we understand that people process grief in different, and often ungraceful, ways does not mean their statements can’t be corrected.
Plus: hearing each others’ lists of crappy things people said gives us some validation, too.
So, here’s some of the crazy, the mean, and the just plain odd:
- you should be grateful you had a good relationship. Not everyone does, you know. You should think about the people who don’t get to have good ones. Like me.
- You lost one person. Big deal. Other people love you.
- What do you get to do now, that you wouldn’t have been able to do if he lived? (um, what?)
- Why did you get out of the water and not him? He was a better swimmer. It should have been you.
- You know, you just need to go dancing. That’s what got me over my divorce.
- He is still here now. He just isn’t in his form anymore, but it’s not really that different.
- My deepest wish is that you find someone new immediately, and put this all behind you.
- Well, hey. I had a bad break-up a few years ago, and now I am deliriously happy in my marriage. So you never know. You’ll probably get someone even better, and you’ll be glad this happened for you. It might just really work out.
Maybe I’m just not feeling very grace-full today. I don’t particularly like dwelling on the negative things here. Sometimes, I just get prickly and protective of people in pain, and all the things we hear.
I want it to be different. I want all the people in the world to learn more grace, more kindness, more compassion. I want all the people in the world, around any grieving person in the world, to settle into their own hearts before they speak. I want them to ask: do I need to say anything more than “I’m sorry, I love you”? Is what I have to say kind, honest, gentle, and non-shaming? Is what I plan to say going to dismiss their grief, or try to diminish it in any way?
Do I only want to say something because I am incredibly, super uncomfortable and I need to do something to feel less helpless?
I want all the people in the world to take a breath, take a step back, check in with themselves, find their hearts, and then, and only then, open their mouths.
That’s what I want. And I know it’s not likely. But I can try.
Now. On to the changes for this space on Wednesdays. I set myself a really rigorous editorial schedule of 3 blog posts, the weekly newsletter, a HuffPo article, and a guest post…. every week. Every week. It’s catching up to me. Writing that many times a week has meant letting some other projects slide, and still other projects never getting past the fleeting idea stage.
There’s so much I want to give you all, so many different ways I want to serve this community of grievers and lovers and parents and friends. I need to have at least one day during the week when I can focus on those new projects.
So for now, my writing on Witness Wednesdays is going to be on hold. But here’s what I’m thinking: I wonder if people would be interested in submitting their names (or initials) each week, along with a “keep me in your hearts” request, to be posted on Wednesdays? That’s not the best description, maybe.
What I’m envisioning is that when you come to the Refuge in Grief site on Wednesdays, you’ll find the names or initials of people who would like good thoughts, love, & support sent out to them by our readership. Light a candle. Pray, chant, or meditate if that is part of your path. Hold that person in front of your heart for a few moments. Wish them well. Wish them kindness. Wish them a good night’s sleep.
What do you all think? I can post those love requests each Wednesday, and you can honor them in whatever way feels true for you. It could be like a virtual sit-in.
I know that it doesn’t change anything viscerally or practically, to have someone holding you in their heart. I know. And – sometimes it is just a tiny bit of goodness to know you are held, with love, in someone’s mind, today, right now.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments, or send me an email. And let me know, too, if you’d like to be on the Wednesday love list. We’ll try it out next Wednesday and see how it goes.