3 Strategies To Free Ourselves From Others Judgements; Part 2: The Griever

(If you haven’t already, start with Part 1 HERE)

How can we as grievers use the advice in Part 1 when hurt by a comment we are… (Dare I say it...) judging?

I realize this point of view may raise some eyebrows, especially because it is such a sensitive subject and as grievers, we are sometimes overly sensitive. Because of this, I will speak mostly from a personal standpoint.

Right after Mac’s loss I was hurt, feeling lonely and not understand how people (including closest loved ones) couldn’t  see just how deep these wounds were. I was (ugh, this is me being vulnerable and feeling really exposed here) offended at times when I didn’t feel the support or get the understanding I thought I needed. It made me angry and resentful and that wasn’t something I was comfortable with. I had a hard time seeing I was in control of  how another’s opinion made me feel. I was clueless, overly sensitive and reacting rather than responding. I felt alone and misunderstood.

Let’s dive a little deeper into how to get out of the mindset of playing victim when we hear negative comments or lack of support and start confidently standing on our own two feet.

Ready?

Great! Imagine if you will…

You are out with a friend when you run into someone you haven’t seen in a while. Your loss comes up. Tension fills the air followed by silence and your friend suddenly speaks up saying something like, “She is doing the best she can and knows it was for the best. He is in a better place.”

You’ve heard something like this before, right? I mean, who hasn’t? It is a pretty common (and surprisingly still assumed appropriate) response to a loss, agreed?

Our first instinct (well, mine anyway) is to feel hurt. How can someone down play my loss? “In a better place” What better place than with me? I am a God fearing Christian woman that believes in Heaven. I know what “better” place you are referring to, but I have to tell you just as I told God, I still wish he was here with me and not there, in that better place.

But, I don’t respond and try not to show I’m hurt. I stay quiet harboring my feelings and eventually feel anger. This reaction is common. It is normal, but what if we knew better. What if we looked at this comment at a higher level and with a mindset of non-judgement. We would need to go back to that split second just BEFORE we attached our feelings and judgements to the comment. What would that look like?

Indulge me for a moment…

Go back to that moment you hear the negative comment and then stop immediately after they stop talking.

I’d like you to take a step back, remove any emotions and ask yourself these questions:

Is it our place to assume we know where the person is coming from?

Did they actually mean to hurt us or are we making a judgement?

And finally the big one:

Is this persons intentionally trying to hurt me?

One of these questions (if answered with complete and utter honesty) will usually be enough to tell us, no it wasn’t likely to hurt us. That is the moment when we can see this situation and this comment differently. We then have the ability to see this was not a malice comment intended to break our heart. It is simply one persons reaction to a situation. A choice of words based on the speakers point of view, life experiences (or lack of) and own emotions. This person likely has no idea what a comment like this really means when spoken to a mom that just lost her baby or child.

Typically, it can stop here because we know in our hearts that most people are good, intend to do good and are not trying to hurt us. However, there are those moments where our hearts feel broken and we can’t understand how the comment or action could be taken any way other than hurtful. At that moment we need to really dig deep, find a way truly take that step back (because we probably didn’t really do that in the beginning and that is why we are here) and try to detach from those hurtful emotions. It may mean walking away or waiting until you are alone to readdress it. When you are there, ask yourself: Do I know with complete certainty this person is trying to hurt me? Is there even the slightest doubt I cannot be 100% certain? If you have even the slightest doubt you cannot know for certain this person was intending to be negative.

What we tend to lose sight of in these moment is the simple fact that we all come from different experiences. Maybe the negative comment was once said to this person and it gave them comfort. I don’t know, maybe the person has never experienced any loss, but had heard someone else use these words to comfort another. My point is we don’t know. We have no way of knowing and it is truly a judgement on our part to assume we do. Asking the simple question, “Do I know it to be 100% true their intentions are to hurt me?” really helps us stop and realize we do not have to view this as a negative comment at all. In fact, I encourage you to look at it on a completely different level all together. It may not have been your choice of words to comfort, but isn’t it nice to have someone offering any words at all. Yes, you and I know these words can sometimes be ignorant at best, but maybe it is the best they can do. What if that is all they have and their intentions are not to hurt you, but to wrap you up in comfort and take your pain away? You never know. You can only assume and for me, I’d rather assume good rather than bad. I believe people are good and want to do good. I also believe they sometimes fall short and are faulted when they shouldn’t be. Have you ever been mistaken? Have you ever had someone get mad at you for something you did or said because THEY took it wrong? It happens and when it comes to grief… we are all walking on eggshells most of the time. Don’t allow resentment to come into your relationships based on an assumption or judgement you made.

I want to leave you with two final thoughts.

First, I need you to know that although I’d love for most negative comments to stem from good people with poor word choices you and I both know there are those instances when the negative comment is just that… a negative comment. Unfortunately, it isn’t always us passing emotional judgements on good intentions. These comments hurt and cut deep, especially when they are said by our loved ones. I’ve experienced this personally and can tell you I’m still working on forgiveness because of the pain it caused. I am not proud of that. I wish I could forgive easily and move on, but I’m still working on it. I pray often for God to soften my heart and heal the wounds caused by such an unloving comment.

For you, I advise the same. Forgive and if you can’t then work intentionally at forgiving. As I have said before, there is no freedom in harboring resentment and anger. I know. I am constantly haunted by this pain of my situation.

Second, I need you to understand that when these comments come from people closest to us it isn’t typically said out of hate. Yes, even I understand and accept that- negative, hurtful comment and all. I know, it might feel as if it is motivated by hate in the moment, but it isn’t. So often these comments come from their own pain, poor judgment, reactions rather than responses, misunderstandings, feelings or experiences. That same comment that came out of their mouth directed to hurt you is likely haunting them too. You can bet they are likely regretful. It doesn’t make the hurtful comment right. It doesn’t take the pain away, but hopefully it does help you understand you did not do anything to deserve it. Their comment does not diminish your grief, nor does it make what you feel invalid. You can stand confidently knowing you have every right to grieve your loss, talk about your loss, remember & recognize your loss and grieve any way you choose. There is not one person that can tell you how to grieve or to stop. There is NO shame in grieving your loss. I repeat, these is NO SHAME in grief. I say this to you because of the comment that was said to me and the way it made me feel. It took time for me to realize nobody could tell me Mac’s death was in the past, I shouldn’t bring it up or the grief I feel has an expiration.

The biggest thing you can do for yourself is forgive the comment and move on. It is also the most difficult at times.