Grief Support Gone Wrong: When You’re Beyond Second Chances – from WYG site
The one thing more difficult than losing my mother was the lack of emotional support I received after she died – that plus the insensitive comments and platitudes I got from other people.
I’ve been thinking of writing about my experiences with how horribly extended family, immediate family, online friends, real life friends, and church people hurt me or totally let me down in my time of grief, for this blog.
In the meantime, there is this page, linked to below, from WYG (“What’s Your Grief”) which outlines many of the ways you will be mistreated during your time of grief: you’ll either be ignored, wounded, insulted, or offended by the people in your life who should be emotionally supporting you (and perhaps offering practical help to you) during your time of grief.
I completely related to several items on this page.
I’m only going to place a portion of the WYG article on this page; if you’d like to read the entire thing, please use this link:
Nothing puts a person’s support system to the test quite like a crisis. When the clouds of hardship dull the glare of more happy and carefree times, a person often sees their support system accurately for the very first time.
For some people, this is a reassuring experience, as they find their support system is similar to what they had assumed it would be. For others, it’s a bit, shall we say, disconcerting.
Many grieving people find that changes and disappointments within their support system become a secondary loss. They had assumed a certain type of support would be given and they feel hurt and angry when it isn’t.
People can let you down in all sorts of ways during times of hardship.
Take, for example, these especially frustrating culprits.
The Grief-Ghoster: In case you aren’t hip like me, I should explain that ghosting is when a person suddenly ceases communication with someone out of nowhere, seemingly without warning or provocation. This term is usually applied to dating scenarios, but it’s a concept that translates to all those friends and family members who told you they’d be there for you and then vanished into thin air.
The Know-it-All: The name says it all here. The know-it-all acts like your loss is their opportunity to shine. They have all the answers, they know exactly how you should feel, and know exactly what you should do.
Some people are know-it-alls in every facet of their lives, others are only know-it-alls when it comes to trauma and loss because they’ve experienced it themselves. Although a know-it-all can be helpful at times, often they come off as pushy and self-centered.
The No-Show: The no-show is the friend or family member who never showed up in the way you expected them to. These people may be completely absent. They may be physically present, but refuse to acknowledge your loss or your ongoing grief. Or they may shirk their duty to support you as you believe a best friend, parent, sibling (etc) should.
….THAT SAID…the next logical question is, inevitably and understandably, when is enough enough? What if a person isn’t worthy of a second chance? What if I don’t want that person back in my life? What if I’ve given the person too many chances? When is a relationship not worth holding onto?
[What follows on their page is a list of suggestions to help you decide if you should terminate relationships with people who were callous or insensitive to you during your time of grief]
…. Is the person a threat to your healing?
Some people aren’t toxic, but they are draining, demanding, and/or have a bad influence on your healing. A very explicit example is if a friend knows you are trying to give up the negative coping skill of alcohol use, yet they continue to pressure you to go out drinking with them.
Other threats to healing may be more difficult to spot. For example, if you are trying to focus on having a more positive and constructive outlook, but your negative friend always sucks you into commiserating and complaining. Or if you realize that your friend or family member is a chronic taker.
Once you believe that a person is a threat to your healing, you should draw boundaries around how much time and energy you give to them. Many people find that once they are allowed to grow, recover, and heal, they outgrow these particular relationships, but if not, you can reconnect with them later on when you’re feeling stronger.
… Are you seeking support that the person is not equipped to give?
… Some people are good listeners, others are good at giving advice, others are good for comic relief…the list goes on.
So, for example, if you want someone to listen to you without judgment, then don’t turn to your most opinionated friend.
Sometimes her candor is exactly what you need, but it’s off-putting when all you want is a little acceptance and nurturing. For further discussion of assessing your needs and seeking help from the right person, head here.
If you’re someone who was let down by friends and family in your grief, you may find the comments at the bottom of that page therapeutic or at least validating. I know I found myself shaking my head in agreement reading some of the comments, thinking, “Yep, that happened to me too, and it sucked.”
As for me, I had to cut at least one person out of my life for how he behaved after my mother’s death, and I had to limit contact with a small number of others. You do really learn who truly cares about you when you’re in grief.