It is one of the most common remarks we hear - you'll Get Past This - you have to Get Through This - you need to Get Over This - or some such version. What they all have in common is moving on. But there is also a tinge of judgement, a hint of insensitivity and expectation - that you have to heal on someone else's timetable.
It really doesn't provide any actual tools or support - HOW do I get past this loss? It can also imply that there is an End Point, when you are "done" grieving - but it doesn't tell you how to get there. As with the other Tall Tales, it something one says out of reflex, without understanding that it just isn't that helpful.
When dealing with a death, it triggers a fear in many of us - if I move on, does that mean forgetting my loved one?? Does that mean I am okay with their death? Well, after 30+ losses, I can tell you definitively, that will never happen.
There will never be a time that your spouse, child, friend or companion will just disappear as if they had never existed. But that does not mean that you must think of them every minute of every day, buried in your grief for the rest of your days. Honoring them does not mean sacrificing your own happiness – and your loved one would not want that for you.
I believe that this goal of Getting Over or Past a loss is not realistic and using these remarks can set an impossible expectation. A more productive and attainable goal is to discover and utilize the tools of weaving this loss into the landscape of your life. It is part of your history now, as is the loss of your loved one who is no longer with you. And that is completely doable.
I have seen many friends and family do this in various ways - one story that comes to mind is my best friend's Dad. He lost his wife after a long and fierce battle with MS. To say he was heartbrokwn doesn't even begin to cover it. At her funeral he said, "I will mourn her till I whither." It was one of the most beautiful tributes I have ever heard. But the amazing thing about this husband was that when his period of mourning was over, he used his grief to help others, by volunteering to support other widowers and be a companion to them in their grieving process. He went to funerals, sat shiva with families, checked up on them, and more. And he didn't tell anyone - never saw the need to call attention to his service. I know his wife approved.
Did he "Get Over" his loss? I don't think so - but he did get better about it.
When we transform our pain into service and support of others, something heals in us, and it gives our loss purpose. And as we get older and losses accumulate (as mine did), our weaving continues, we honor our departed, reshape who we are, and actively pursue healing and integration. We talk about our emotions, make new choices and we find our New Normal.
So if you are in a position of supporting a griever, perhaps offer to help with chores, check in on them, listen to their stories, ask about the deceased - all of these are choices that may be much more greatly appreciated. They will help a griever Get Better - and that is a much kinder, more attainable goal.
If you would like to speak to me personally about the above subject or any topic surrounding Grief, Loss, coaching or healing, click here to set aside a personal Free ½ Hour Empowerment Call. You are not alone.
Claire M. Schwartz
Leading You Back into the Light after Loss