This article is stellar.
When I talk about the unhelpful advice people give grieving folks, I get hate mail. Most of the negative reviews of my book center on my seeming inability to understand that people have good intentions. It’s as though TRYING to be helpful and kind is the only thing that matters, and we should never ever talk about what that help actually FEELS like for the receiver.
We don’t want to make people uncomfortable by telling them that what they’re doing doesn’t help. We sacrifice our own needs to be seen, heard, respected and yes – HELPED by those who love us, rather than face their defensive responses that they were only trying to help.
Those in the chronic illness and disability communities experience this as well. This essay by Rebekah Taussig offers a wonderful look at what it’s like to be on the receiving end of too much “kindness.”
And if you feel defensive or annoyed at either my post or Rebekah’s article, take a minute before you yell at one of us. What would it be like to set down your “CUT PEOPLE SOME SLACK, THEY’RE DOING THE BEST THEY CAN” knee-jerk reaction? Can you make some space to be curious about your impulsive outrage? Could you consider making a little space for someone to tell you how to actually deliver the love and support you intend, even if it makes you a bit uncomfortable?
It’s not enough to say that people mean well. The work is to find out if what you’re doing actually FEELS helpful to the receiver, and if it does not, to actively participate in finding out what might feel better.
It’s not easy – everyone’s got a delicate ego on this stuff – but it is important and powerful work. It’s the work of actually SEEING and loving each other for what the person in front of you really needs, not what you think they should have.It's not enough to say that people mean well. The work is to find out if what you're doing actually FEELS helpful to the receiver, and if it does not, to actively participate in finding out what might feel better. Click To Tweet
Wishing for some company inside your grief? Now, as always, the very best place I know to connect YOU with other grieving folks is inside the Writing Your Grief community. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, there is always someone there: when you feel invisible inside your grief, these folks see you. When your friends have their own sh*t to deal with and you can’t lean on them, your WYG family is there. I mean it folks, this community is unlike any other place – online or IRL. The September session is open now and we’ve got room for you. Follow this link to join us, and pass it on.