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The Ugliness of Grief Shaming

Shocking. Cruel. Unethical. Tragic.

These are only a few words that come to mind when I see some of the attacks being levied towards those in the public eye who have lost a loved one. It is upsetting on so many levels – and I have had to wait a few days to gather my thoughts to write about it because it just makes me so angry.

The sudden death of Luke Perry from a massive stroke at 52 shocked many of us in my generation. That sudden phone call in the middle of the night – I’ve been there. It hits you like a freight train that you can’t get off of. But going after his daughter Sophie, who is only 18, for how she is behaving is just wrong. There is no manual for How to Grieve Correctly. Even if you are older and you have had dozens of losses like I have, there is still a shock to the system at each new loss. She lost her daddy at a very young age and it will change the rest of her life. And some people react in an outrageous manner, yes. Some People may find that inappropriate. Well, Some People can just back off – she’s a kid – she just had her world turned upside-down. How dare you attack her from the shadows of the Internet to lecture her. Mind your business.

Then there is the late Senator John McCain. A war hero with whom I had substantial disagreements. But let me tell you, he faced his end with grace and humility, which is more than many of us can ever hope for. He loved his family and he gave 60+ years of service to this country. So the fact that his family have had their grief interrupted by political gamesmanship is unconscionable. And that isn’t about party or politics, it’s about Basic Human Decency. And who sends death threats to a widow?? It is wrong, period, full stop.

I have dealt with this many times in my practice and my book, the hurtful things that people say to a grief-stricken spouse, mother, brother or child. Asking about money or inheritance – criticizing the deceased for their use of drugs or for taking perceived chances – or telling folks what they Should or Should Not do as they grieve. None of us is perfect and we make mistakes, we do the best we can, often very inadequately. But there is a huge leap from making an insensitive remark to publicly attacking families and certainly, making death threats. My god, can’t we do better than this? I sure hope so.

Addendum – I have not provided links to the awful remarks, you may seek them out if you choose, but I do not want to give them more clicks. I would rather link to stories of people coming together in times of tragedy.

The internet can do some good, too.....


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