I’ve coached multiple people through the mourning process that follows a family death, doing my best to help them through those first few days. One suggestion concerns the advice they’ll get from others going through a visitation receiving line. People will say the oddest things at times of crisis. We all handle grief differently. I want to give people the benefit of the doubt and believe they’re saying what they truly believe is the best to say, but I also know some people simply don’t have good social skills, and even if they don’t intend it, the wrong thing said at the wrong time can have lasting effects. To be honest, the right thing said at the wrong time can have lasting effects!
What I suggest is using a quick filter. If what someone says is helpful in the moment, keep it. If it’s hurtful or disrepectful, set it aside and let it go.
Several people have told me the advice helped, and I generally try to live by what I advise, but I struggle with the application at times.
On Christmas Day, I received many messages that made me smile. I was reminded over and over what a great network of friends and family I have. I continue to reach out to a few people who have dismissed me since the divorce. I was a bit surprised at how easily expendable I was to a handful of people. But just as my ex’s decision didn’t control the choices I had in how I responded, a few people’s treatment of me doesn’t control my treatment of them. So, I still send them messages from time to time, because I care for them.
I sent Christmas wishes. Most of the responses were warm and, in the least, were generic, and I don’t know why I didn’t just focus on those. There was only one that contained a jab to remind me how expendable I was.
The text didn’t surprise me. It was consistent with other responses or lack of responses I had received from the person, but it still stung.
Why did I focus on the one that seemed to rub my nose in the fact that I was longer included? And why couldn’t I keep it in the context of the way this particular person has consistently treated me?
“Let it go, Susan.”
There was no reason to lash out. There was no reason to reply. There was no reason to carry the hurt.
I needed to listen to my own advice and let it go. So, I did.
I am sorry the person cannot heal in healthy ways that help others heal in healthy ways, too. But that doesn’t mean I need to choose an unhealthy response. I’m not going to hang on when I shouldn’t.
Sort through what you’re hanging onto today. Pursue the conversations you need to have in order to move on. But if it’s time to move on, let the other stuff go.