What is Grief-Shaming?

Each of us has or will experience grief at some point in life. It is fundamental to being human. The magnitude of that grief will vary, based on the circumstance, but that feeling of loss and longing is still painful. Grief has no timeline or structure; it comes like the tide, powerful enough to knock us over one moment, offering us respite the next.

This natural process can be even more painful when others dismiss or invalidate grief, known as grief-shaming. Let’s take a closer look at what grief-shaming is, the pain it causes, and how to protect yourself from those who implement it.

What is Grief-Shaming?

The definition of grief shaming is self-defining. It’s the act of dismissing, comparing, or judging another person’s grieving experience. A majority of the time, someone may not even realize that they’re grief-shaming. However, ignorance doesn’t make the experience any less painful.

Phrases to Look Out For

One of the best things to do when communicating is to think before you speak. You may have the best intentions in the world, but sometimes your words can fall short. This is especially true regarding grief because many people want to speed up the grief timeline to see their friend happy again. Here are a few of the most common phrases you should try to avoid if you’re speaking to someone who is grieving.

Downplaying or Dismissing Grief Examples:

  • “Didn’t you see this coming?”
  • “Why didn’t you ask more questions?”
  • “How did you not know they were struggling?”

These types of questions or statements can leave the griever feeling like they’re to blame for what happened, leading to them feeling even worse about the situation than they already do.

Minimizing Grief Examples:

  • “It’s been X amount of time. I thought you’d be over this by now.”
  • “These types of things happen all the time. You’re not special.”
  • “At least you weren’t engaged or married.”

There isn’t a checklist for how to grieve properly. Minimizing someone’s grief or rushing them to get through it is never an appropriate course of action. You can support them and want what’s best for them while trying to help them get through their grief in their timeframe.

Judging Grief Examples:

  • “Why are you still so upset about it?”
  • “You shouldn’t be crying over this.”
  • “I could never do that.”

Everyone grieves in their own way. No judgments should be made about how someone is grieving or how long it takes them to get through the grieving process. Try to be supportive instead of judgmental.

The Truth About Grief

Unfortunately, there isn’t a rulebook or steps on how to grieve properly. Everyone must experience their own grief according to their own timeframe. No one can mark a date on their calendar weeks or months from now and say that will be the day they’re fully healed and moved on from their grief.

Next Steps

If you cannot express yourself and your grief to your family and friends, you’re not alone. On the other hand, you may be a loved one trying to help someone grieving, but you’re unsure of how you can help. Grief is a hard topic for anyone going through it. It can be hard to share your thoughts and feelings about it, even with your loved ones. And if you’re the one trying to help someone going through grief, you may feel like you’re “walking on eggshells” to not react in the wrong way or say the wrong things.

You don’t have to go through this difficult time alone. Working with a coach can help you sort through all the thoughts and feelings you may be experiencing. Grief can make you feel alone, but all you have to do is reach out for help.

4/12/2023 4:00:00 AM
Kamini  Wood
Written by Kamini Wood
Kamini Wood, a certified professional coach, helps people take the courageous steps to identify their limiting beliefs, the reasons for their stagnation or feelings of not enoughness, so they can have what they want professionally and personally to live a fulfilled life. She is the creator of AuthenticMe® and CEO of Li...
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