What Vanessa’s Bryant’s Grief Shaming Says About Our Culture

Megan Devine is a psychotherapist, writer, grief advocate, and the founder of Refuge In Grief. She is dedicated to helping people live through the things they never thought they’d face.

Journalists: skip using “still” when you refer to someone’s grief.

This week marks the first anniversary of Kobe Bryant’s death. Vanessa Bryant will carry grief as long as she carries love. I’d say the same thing on the 5th anniversary too, but it’s been ONE year. Of course Vanessa Bryant is still grieving. Using the word “still” implies she’s doing it wrong.

It’s a form of grief-shaming. Grief-shaming happens when we make judgments or decisions about someone’s public face of mourning. It happens when we judge whether we think the way someone is grieving is acceptable. You can have the best intentions, but if you’re clothing them with shame or judgement, your good intentions don’t matter. ⁣

It’s easy to report on grief in the celebrity world: “Vanessa Bryant wrestles with grief as anniversary of losing Kobe and Gianna approaches.” or “Vanessa Bryant shares grief isn’t easy, as anniversary of losing Kobe and Gianna approaches.”

Whether we’re talking about a public figure or private citizen, saying that someone is “still grieving” (no matter how long it has been) not only implies that they’re doing grief wrong, it makes them feel guilty about their grief.

There is no time limit on grief. None.⁣ Grief lasts as long as love lasts

I think when people express surprise that someone is “still grieving” or suggest that someone should have “moved on by now,” what they’re really saying is “My time limit on understanding and compassion is running out, could you please go back to who you used to be?”⁣

People don’t understand that you aren’t the person you used to be, and there is no going back. There is only integrating your grief into your new life.⁣

How about you? Do you have people in your life who think that you should be done with your grieving by now?⁣ Who wonder why you are “still grieving” or aren’t “over it” yet? Let us know in the comments. The more we talk about this stuff, the more people realize they aren’t alone.

There is no time limit on grief. None.⁣ Grief lasts as long as love lasts.⁣ Click To Tweet

Looking for resources to help a grieving friend? Want support for yourself as you live through a life you didn’t ask for, but is here nonetheless? Be sure to check out the resources for support people here, and the resources for grieving people here.

If you’re carrying grief (no matter how recent or how old), check out our most popular, hugely amazing Writing Your Grief course. It’s not like most places on the internet. Inside the course, you can tell the whole truth about your grief – and you won’t hear a single platitude. No advice, no cheerleading, just acknowledgment and support. The next session stars on February 8th. All the information is right here.

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