May I dare say that ‘positivity’ may be ruining our relationships?
Our culture is to provide a “glass is half full” response to grievers. This may be extinguishing the flame of hope hurting people have for surviving and thriving after a loss.
Here are 11 scenarios that illustrate common positive responses.
1. Griever is going through a break-up.
Positive response: “There are plenty of fish in the sea!”
2. Griever is sad when her elderly grandfather passes away.
Positive response: “He’s in a better place.”
3. Griever has to make the decision to put his sick dog down.
Positive response: “At least he’s not suffering anymore.”
4. Griever shares that she is feeling hopeless about infertility issues.
Positive response: “You’re young! You have years to have a baby!”
5. Mom says her children are having a rough time after moving to a new house.
Positive response: “They’ll make new friends!”
6. Griever says she misses her husband who is deployed for 6 months.
Positive response: “At least you have technology to communicate!”
7. Griever is going through a divorce.
Positive response: “At least you didn’t have children! That makes it way easier.”
8. Griever says he’s having a difficult time at his new job.
Positive response: “But that’s your dream job! You wanted it so badly!”
9. Griever suffers a miscarriage.
Positive response: “You can try again! At least you didn’t know the baby.”
10. Your kid’s team loses the football game.
Positive response: “You’ll win next time!”
11. A grieving parent is in the hospital with a sick child.
Positive response: “At least you have great insurance!”
Have you experienced being on either side of one of these examples? Can you see how responding with positivity may produce the opposite effect?
The underlying message from each positive response above is: DON’T FEEL BAD.
Don’t feel bad = DON’T BE HUMAN.
When we say something positive (in an effort to be helpful) we are really communicating that the griever is wrong for having a very appropriate emotion to a situation that upsets them.
In fact, when someone is hurting it can actually be more helpful to respond with, “that sucks!” than anything involving a silver lining.
The next time you’re speaking with a griever (*a griever = anyone who is experiencing a loss*), cut the positivity out of your response. Just listen and let them feel heard and okay with not being okay.