My commitment to healing

I spent a few hours hanging out with my grief counselor on Thursday (yes, we are friends...I know it is unusual but it works for us).  She is wise.   I had several "a-ha moments" with her.  I was telling her about my experience with the people who count my blessings and fight with me about my grief. "How aggressive!", she said.
"They just don't think before they speak to me", I responded.
She then explained that they are actually aggressively pushing their agenda on me.  That these kind of people typically react this way to the grief of others and that they have giant control issues.  She explained that many people are just so uncomfortable with grief that their agenda is to put an end to it.  Their insensitivity is in fact, quite intentional.  They have no way of understanding that grief (even heavy grief) is a natural and necessary part of loss.  It is an important part of healing in fact.  The people that PUSH me to stop grieving believe that I am committed to staying in grief.   Well, I can assure you that I am not committed to staying in fact, I am totally committed to healing.  But, this was SO interesting to me!  Of course that is what they think.  It was an a light bulb went on over my head.  Connected to this, I also explained to her that I find it so hard to understand why it is actually very easy for me to make small talk with the friends and family of mine who are willing to go to the deep and dark places with me.  What she explained made complete sense - that I am willing to swim in the shallow end with those that are also willing to join me in the deep end.  She suggested that I stick with those people and forget the other ones for now.  Even if they mean well, they unintentionally hurt and aggravate me....something that she explained is common for those who are grieving.  It is not healthy to subject myself to them.  It hurts me that they cannot understand why I am unhappy and so I explain and explain and explain (and actually end up wondering what the hell is wrong with people that they really cannot understand why parents would be deeply unhappy after the death of their child).  But, it is not that they don't understand why we are unhappy, it is that they are trying to MAKE us be happy regardless of the circumstances because they are so uncomfortable with our unhappiness.  They are trying to control our reaction to our loss!  How crazy and yet totally obvious.  I don't know how I didn't see this before!  What's clear is that I need to protect myself from any more pain and stress.  As part of my commitment to healing, I will do my best not to engage with these people anymore.  To finally understand what was motivating people to constantly challenge my grief or to flat out ignore it, like it isn't the MOST GIGANTIC elephant in the room, is actually like a weight lifted off my shoulders.  I could NOT understand why these people were so incredibly insensitive to our loss.  I now realize (FINALLY) that its all about their control issues (trust me when I tell you that there is nothing that will make you feel more out of control than losing your own child).  These folks don't like grief (as if anyone does) so they are pushing me to abandon mine.  Most likely, they have never experienced a devastating loss or, if they did, they never appropriately dealt with it.  She suggested that I just smile and nod or ignore them entirely.  And as far as where I am with my grief - she assured me ( she always does) that I am right where I am supposed to be.


Susan said...

Yeah, I mostly agree. My Dad does this - tries to reason me out of my grief. The thing is - once he climbed out of the mire, he thought he'd done it by reason himself, and that he could pull me out too. He freely admits he doesn't want to stay in that dark place with me.... the thing is, he was Catherine's Granddad - he lived thousands of miles from her.. he obiosuly isn't going to be effected by her death as much as me... I agree with your counsellor - these arguments are a waste of emotional energy xx

Britt M. said...

I think she gives some excellent advice: stick with those who can listen and show compassion, at any time you need it. If some are unable, it's not necessarily because they don't care- they are just not able. Such a short period of time has passed relative to such a life-changing (and life-long) loss, I for one cannot see how one could judge where you "should" be in your journey. Maxie's prescence will always be with you, let him and Mo help to guide you along your way. Thinking of you all, as always.

Kira said...

This sounds so logically. I have become pretty good about ignoring people. The biggest problem is my mother and my mother in law who want to control how happy we should be and how we should move on. They dont want to be in the dark place or see their babies suffer (US) but its their own control, thank you Abby everything your counselor says makes sense to me.

Tiffany said...

makes so much sense. i felt like i had to cut ties with several people that i just didn't feel were there for me. and like you, i didn't mind having casual conversations with them because they had be there for me. i just hate that it has to be this way at all.

Rebecca said...

I think it really depends on the person. There are some people whom I think are uncomfortable with grief and want it gone, so they want to control you and your emotions so that they can feel better about it. There are others, though, who I think just say it to have something to say and really don't think about the meaning behind their words. I have a lot of older friends (70s and 80s) and when they tell me that I "need to move on", I take it with a grain of salt. They grew up in a different time and in the area of the country where I am from, grief is an extremely private thing that nobody from that generation would ever have talked about publicly. My own grandmother, for instance, watched her infant starve to death and die in front of her eyes and she was helpless to do anything about it (she wouldn't take her milk and doctors wouldn't help her) yet she never talked about that daughter or shared her feelings. Likewise, my favorite aunt (she's 82) had her 10 year old daughter die of meningitis. In a conversation with me, she told me a year after Toby died that I needed to put it all behind me. I could have taken that as being cold and manipulative. I just hugged her and smiled, feeling hurt and confused but still loving her. Later, my cousin (her daughter) told me that even two years after Toby died she still catches my aunt crying for me and saying how awful she feels for me. I have never seen that side of her, but apparently it's there. Again, I think there is a cultural and generational thing going on.

For the most part, though, I think that people are just insensitive bastards and they want us to feel better so that they can feel better. I've been writing and saying that for almost two years now.

Cathy in Missouri said...

Of many excellent points, what stood out to me was, "How aggressive!"

Yes - and no wonder you feel, then, a need to defend yourself. They ARE being aggressive. They are trying to control your feelings and your reality and somehow erase the truth that is Maxie's death. They can't. So they keep pushing, shoving, stepping on you.

No wonder this makes you angry. No wonder you don't feel "helped." No wonder it is such a tangle, when on the surface "help" is being offered - but all the while you feel the iron grip tightening.

No wonder this makes you feel "crazy" sometimes (and you are FAR FROM CRAZY)...because it is not what it seems.

You, unavoidably, hellishly, live in Reality. They deny it. And they don't *admit* denying it.

Who is crazy, here?

Not you,