Pet Peeve: Boundaries

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I have some pet peeves about the world of grieving people. Some of them are pretty popular misconceptions. Today's topic is the truism "no one understands except another widowed person."

Which might have a chance of being accurate if you didn't have the "no one" in the sentence. Because, seriously?

No one who's lost a child can feel as wracked with grief?
No one whose home was destroyed in Katrina or the tsunami has had as hard a time adjust as you?
How about someone whose arms were amputated by machete in Rwanda?

Really? NO ONE?

It's hard enough (and it could be true) to say that MOST of the people in our communities have not understood the grief and the tremendous life change that a widow or widower is going through.

People do say a lot of stupid things. A great many of very, very stupid things. Most of them mean well and are simply ignorant.

And yes, some people are scared of your loss or your intensity. We often feel we have leprosy. It's ridiculous. (I agree. I'm on your side.)

But that's not the same as "no one else can understand." (It's also not the same as us asserting that we will never be callous, insensitive, or dumb about what to say again, ourselves. But that's a pet peeve for another day).

Don't put up fences. Your community members may surprise you. Even if they have not been widowed, you may find that someone's empathy can affect you. You may find that a few people "get" it (at least in part). And they may not be the ones you expect.

Widowed people are GREAT company. Social connections with widowed people SAVED MY LIFE and I still cherish the friends I made during that period of rapid change. That support is why I am a creator of this larger global community of widowed people and why I created Widowed Village. It's EASY and NOURISHING to surround yourself with people who have "been there" and are okay with it all. We are TOUGH and wonderful.

But empathy is all around us. Do what you need to protect yourself. Find community and make friends. Don't shut the rest of the world out and for the love of Pete, don't create rationalizations to make it easier to close those doors.

After all, the world needs you, too.


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