When dealing with a big loss, it is not uncommon for a well-meaning friend, acquaintance, or family member to say the wrong thing at the wrong time. They may tell you that you need to take specific action or that it is time to make a specific change and return to your old nature. You know and I know that the return will not be the same as we were before the loss. Big losses change us.
Again, I emphasize that toxic people think they are doing the right thing and want to help you. However, we are all products of a culture that distorts the grief process and perpetuates the myths learned early in life. Sometimes poisoned people have the right information to express, but the timing is terribly wrong. Or as an active grieving widow once said to me, “How does she know what my needs are?” Good caregivers are not necessarily good listeners who say what one wants.
What can we do to cope with the extra stress caused by these unnecessary statements? Here are five approaches to consider.
1. No matter how difficult it is, try to maintain your composure when you respond to the person. Quickly returning from a harsh statement will only increase your justified anger (as well as the physical changes that accompany it) and cause a temporary breakdown in your relationship with the person. Of course, much depends on the nature of the statement and the voice in which it is presented.
2. Try a simple answer like “I’m not ready to do it” or “I know you mean it well, but I need to make the changes I need according to my schedule”. It may be what is needed. Also, there is nothing wrong with that if you decide not to respond in any way. Read the situation, then take appropriate action.
3. Reduce contacts with people who do not receive the message or who expect you to follow their agenda for your grief. Their non-verbal communication will be provided to them at all times. When you have to be in front of them, be polite (it will save you a lot of energy) but get involved with the company as soon as possible. There is nothing wrong with not coming to yourself when you know you will have to talk to that person for a long time. You simply care about yourself.
4. Everyone suffers differently but this important concept is not known to everyone. This way, you can avoid making unnecessary statements by telling your caregivers that we are all different in the way we adapt. Normalize your grief for them. In short, teach them how to grieve. But emphasize how much you appreciate everything they have done and how grateful they are for being near your pain and listening to your thoughts. In short, even if you have a hard time being a teacher, you make your support system aware.
5. Finally, consider the following points carefully. Has a person who said something frustrating to you suffered a loss similar to yours? For example, did one widow speak to another or did she have little or no understanding of what you were experiencing? I do not mean that anyone who has suffered a similar loss knows your grief.
Because every relationship is one, no one can know someone else’s sad experience. However, what that person said to you could be helpful in your tragic journey? I once heard a widow say, “I want to know one.” That person may be useful to you in the long run (and not at all). I was not ready to listen to what you had to say.
In summary, it is important to be kind in your response to the toxic person. Keep in mind that many potential caregivers are confused about what to say to someone who is grieving. They need guidance. Often, their grief at seeing you in so much pain makes them try to do whatever they think is useful. In the final analysis, only you can determine how much extra pain that person will continue to have around you. The stress of grief may force you to limit your conversations or to add to your existing weight.