How to handle judgment on your grieving process

"How can I deal with people who expect me to be “over this” already? My fiancée died almost two years ago. How can I convince them it’s alright that I’m not “over it”?"

Though this question was sent by one reader, lots of people struggle with this issue. So many people expect you to be over it, don’t they.

They can’t possibly understand what it’s like to be you, to live inside grief like this. They just want the “old” you back, not understanding that the old you is gone. It’s tempting to argue your right to your grief, to endlessly describe to other people all the things that have changed, all the ways that grief impacts every aspect of your life.  

The thing is, no matter how clearly you say it, no matter how much you try to educate people, your explanations aren't going to stop their judgment. It seems counterintuitive, but the way to get them to stop is to... stop defending your pain. Stop trying to get people to understand why their suggestions won’t help. 

Refusing to defend your grief doesn’t mean you let other people go on and on about it, continually telling you how you should live. Healthy boundaries are about stepping out of the argument altogether by refusing to engage in debates about whether or not your continued pain is valid. 

Want Megan’s advice on how to deal with judgment around your grief? Join the live monthly grief support group call here. 

The important thing to remember is that your grief, like your love, belongs to you. No one has the right to dictate, judge, or dismiss what is yours to live. That they don’t have the right to judge doesn’t stop them from doing it, however.

What that means is, that if you want to stop hearing about their judgment, you will need to clarify your boundaries. You will need to make it clear that your grief is not up for debate.

While it’s certainly easier said than done, there are steps you can take to remove yourself from the debate:

  1. clearly and calmly acknowledge their concern.
  2. clarify your boundaries.
  3. redirect the conversation.

These three steps, when used consistently, can significantly reduce the amount of judgment that actually makes it to your ears.

Here’s how this might look in actual practice: your Aunt June keeps telling you to get back out there in the dating world, insisting it will help you "move on." Combining steps one and two in the 3 step process, you say: “I appreciate your interest in my life. I am going to live this the way that feels right to me, and I’m not interested in discussing it.” To make it especially effective, you follow your statement with step #3, redirecting the conversation, aka – changing the subject: “I’m happy to talk about something else, but this is not open for discussion.”

It sounds really wooden and strange, but the message here – including the formal wording – is that you have a clear boundary, and you will not allow it to be breached in any way. Grief will absolutely re-arrange your relationships. Scripts and boundaries make those interpersonal challenges much easier to manage. 

  • Wait, what do I say exactly? Hearing endless advice from people who… won’t. stop. talking? If you want specific phrases to use in your specific circumstances, join us in the monthly live Q&A group call. Dealing with rude-on-purpose and well-intentioned-but-still-rude comments is something we address almost every month. 
  • Writing never talks back. If you want a judgment free place to explore your losses, we strongly recommend the Writing Your Grief self-guided course. More than 10,000 people have used the prompts to tell the truth about their grief... and the page never argues with you. Come see

We can make things better, even when they can't be made right.