Step 2 is all about the fact that we aren’t mind readers. We just don’t know what other people are thinking or feeling.
Please don’t assume people are doing things to intentionally hurt you. They probably aren’t. People will say and do the darndest things when someone dies. But, please don’t assume that they don’t care about you. They’re probably just trying to get through the grief themselves or they just don’t know what to say. They’re nervous and feeling awkward. But, they care.
Please don’t assume people will know how to act around you. They don’t. We all have roles in our relationships and now yours just changed. Maybe you were a part of a couples group. Now you’re a single and the others may not know how to act around you in that role. Hopefully, they’ll figure it out. Hopefully they’ll learn how to make a new friend structure with you as a single. Maybe they won’t. But, don’t assume that they’re doing things to be mean. They’re just uncomfortable or even clueless. Hopefully they’ll do the right thing, but they may not. If they don’t and you find yourself being pushed outside the circle, it hurts. Deeply. Not only have you lost someone you love, but you might lose some friends along the way. That hurts. All I can say it, try your best to remember that you don’t know what they’re thinking. It probably has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. Maybe they’re scared of death and you now make them think about dying. Maybe they’re just uncomfortable and don’t know what to do around you. Maybe they just find it easier to not be around you. It’s not fair and it’s not right, but remember you don’t know what they’re thinking. All you can do is try to find your new normal. You will be ok, but it’s sure not easy. It’s not easy to make new friends when you are grieving for your old life. It’s not easy when people push you away when you need them the most. It’s not easy….. it’s not easy….. it’s not easy.
Please don’t assume people will know what to say. They may not. People will say dumb things to grieving people. Don’t think they’re being insensitive on purpose. They just don’t have a clue what to say to you. On the flip side, don’t assume people know how you’re feeling. They don’t. If you’re acting grouchy because you’re sad, they just see grouchy. They don’t see sad. So tell people how you feel. Let them know what’s going on. If you can’t do that, at least tell yourself. Don’t lie to yourself and think you’re just mad that your kids didn’t take out the garbage when in reality you’re extremely sad that your mom is gone. Be honest with yourself!
Please don’t assume your family or even your spouse will feel the same way that you do. They won’t. Why would they? They’re different people with different experiences. Even two siblings raised in the same family will have different reactions. We just have to let the people around us handle things in their way. We can’t expect everyone to be on the same page that we’re on. And the weird thing about the stages of grief is, they don’t go in a nice straight line. You can’t say “OK, I’ve been through the anger stage on to bargaining. The truth is, the stages run in a curvy, loopy path. You’ll go in and out of them several times. Maybe even several times a day. Maybe even several times an hour. You get the picture – they come and go. So, it’s pretty possible that while you are bargaining, your family is mad. Or vice versa. Basically it just stinks. Grief stinks. It’s hard and it’s messy and it stinks. But, try not to assume that people are going to react the same way that you are. That’s a hard one for me. I want everyone to think the way I do. Life would be much easier that way.
Please don’t assume you’ll get over your grief in a certain time period. You won’t. Life isn’t nice and neat like that. You’ll never truly get over a difficult loss, but you will find peace and happiness again. But don’t think that the hurt will completely go away. It will just go somewhere in the background and sit quietly in the corner. It will pop up from time-to-time just to let you know it’s there and then it will go back. That’s normal. That’s when you come back to these steps again. Remember curvy, loopy path. There’s nothing nice and neat about grief.
I guess in my bossy way, I’m trying to say, please don’t take it personally when people say and do dumb things around you when you lose someone you love. People are scared of death and they don’t want to look at it. Being around you makes them look at it. That’s not fair to you and I hope that your friends and family will grow up and be kind, sensitive, and supportive of you. But, they may not. If they aren’t, try not to assume that they just don’t care. They do. They’re just scared and clueless. Sooner or later it will be their turn and they’ll be forced to face death like you are. I’m sure this step isn’t helping much at all. I’m sorry for that. Just try, try, try not to let people hurt you when they don’t act the way that you need them to. And if that does happen to you, try to surround yourself with people who do give you what you need. Go to a grief support group, try getting into a new circle of friends, try to connect with an old friend that you haven’t talked to in a while. It takes work to survive grief and you might have to work at finding a new support group. I hope you don’t, but be prepared. And remember, you don’t know what people are thinking. They probably aren’t being jerks they’re being human. They’re scared.
Wishing you much peace and love,