With all the backlash grieving people get – “you should do this!” “you have to stop doing that!” – it can be hard to know what you actually have a right to. Pro-tip: everything.
Whatever you feel, the decisions you make for yourself – all your choices to make.
Yes, sometimes you need to take others’ needs into consideration. And. You never have to share information, reveal details, or perform according to someone else’s ideals if you don’t choose to. You just don’t.
Example: Say you run into someone at the grocery store. Seeing you, this person rushes over, puts their hand on your forearm, does that odd “caring” head tilt thing, and asks, “honey, I heard your sister died. What happened?”
In our above made up but super common scenario, remember your rights! Just because someone is thoughtful enough to ask, it doesn’t mean you have to give them the answers.
Given that asserting your rights means people might become even pushier/louder/more rude, resident Revolution illustrator Brittany Bilyeu and I created this griever’s bill of rights poster:
Sharing this graphic out in the world with grieving people means more people know their rights! Sharing this graphic out in the world with not-currently-grieving people means more people know that their grieving friends have rights! Education for everyone.
It’s also available in green!
One cool way to play with this graphic is to choose one of the elements, then experiment with that right for a day or two, in all your interactions. For example, you might choose, “you have the right to not share personal information.” As you go through your day, notice when you feel annoyed or overwhelmed with someone’s questions about your life. Notice if you tend to override those feelings, in the service of being polite, or to avoid conflict.
First, just become aware of it. How often does it happen? What’s the result afterwards, if you override your needs?
And then: exercise your rights. Play around with saying something like, “Thanks for asking. Those aren’t details I share in public.” Or, “We’re all doing the best we can. Thanks for asking. Would you excuse me, I need to get to the rest of my shopping list.” < as you step away from the person, and go about your day. >
To be honest, sometimes you won’t exercise your rights. That’s okay. Knowing you have rights – emotional rights, relational rights – means you can make conscious decisions about when and whether you assert those rights.
This comic was made possible by the financial support our awesome Grief Revolution patrons. If you want to get in on the action – teaching the world how to show up, listen, and respond to grief with the care it deserves – AND get to see the things we make before anyone else – join the Grief Revolution on Patreon today!
Which rights will you choose to play with first? Share them in the comments! Rights and boundaries are challenging things – talking about them together is super helpful. You might also share the new scripts you’re using to redirect demands/questions/requests. Having a set of go-to phrases is so handy and we can all learn from each other.