Hurtful and offensive comments are a part of life. We hear them directed at us. We hear them directed at others. And at times, we’re the ones hurling the insults. Most of the time the person saying it probably doesn’t intend to be mean or insensitive. They just don’t understand the emotions and life perspectives of those within earshot.
Widows and widowers are especially vulnerable to unintentional, but painful comments of others. There is so much emotion and pain pumping through our heads and hearts that our thick skin and normal immunity seems to have dissipated. Add to that the awkwardness of trying to comfort someone in mourning without knowing how and you’ve got a recipe for a relationship break up.
We hear about his repeatedly in our support groups. Surviving spouses tell stories of friends and family members saying things that are meant to be encouraging and comforting but instead come across as manipulative and patronizing. Part of the challenge for family and friends trying to comfort the grieving is that everyone mourns differently. What is offensive to some is comforting to others. Consider this comment posted by a widow:
“I found when people said, ‘God must have needed him.’ Or ‘he's in a better place now.’ I wanted to punch them in the throat. I needed him!! And why wasn't being with me good enough, why is it better without me?”
While I can totally understand this frustration and anger, I truly believe and find it comforting to think that Kris really is in a better place. Hearing someone say that doesn’t bother me at all.
So, what’s a person to say to one who’s in mourning? Megan Devine from Refugeingrief.com has some great resources on the topic. In short, her recommendation is to “Show up. Listen. Don’t fix.” Read a summary of her recommended do’s and don’ts for guidance.
What can be done now to prepare ourselves for a time when we might be impacted negatively by well-meaning comments? Our best advice is to practice now. PsychologyToday.com posted an article on March 24, 2021 called How to Shake Off Hurtful Comments. The author, Alice Boyes, Ph.D., offers five “tips for bouncing back when you’ve got hurt feelings.”
If you need further assistance or guidance, contact Prepare Your Affairs at email@example.com.
Think of someone you know who is in mourning and figure out a way to “Show up. Listen. And don’t fix.”
Consider how you can better respond to offensive or hurtful comments. Choose a technique to practice the next time you find yourself feeling hurt.
Corey and Katie entered widowhood in 2016 after losing spouses to cancer. They met and connected in a widow/widower support group and later married. One of the principles they learned from their own experiences and those of other surviving spouses is that the more prepared a surviving spouse is on a financial, legal, emotional, and practical level, the better they will adjust to widowhood. They will maintain their independence and control of their assets and be freer to properly grieve and move forward in life. Conversely, those who are not prepared are more likely to have their lives flipped upside down. They may need to move and uproot kids because they can't afford the mortgage, rely on family or other charities to financially support them, and/or change jobs to allow them to better serve as a single parent. We hope to share what we've learned and help other families properly get their affairs in order and be prepared with confidence, peace of mind, and in control of their assets.