The longer I walk this grief journey the more I realize how difficult it is for people to understand those who grieve. It’s especially hard for some to do this without making their own judgment and assumptions.
As this journey continues to unfold I realize there are many who will never understand this road we have found ourselves on.
Oh, we could try to explain what it’s like to lose a loved one, but unless you’ve walked this road understanding is very limited.
Amazing to me, but even after all this time I still encounter judgment. Stigma. The look. Have you ever experienced the look? If so, you know exactly what I mean.
If your loved one died of cancer, heart disease, Covid, or a car accident people have sympathy and understanding.
If someone has yet to have personally encountered death or grief, I can understand why there is limited understanding or sympathy. I would hope more people would learn how to at least have empathy, which is different from sympathy. Perhaps then grieving would not be so isolating or lonely.
Sympathy involves understanding from your own perspective. Empathy involves putting yourself in the other person’s shoes and understanding WHY they may have these particular feelings. In becoming aware of the root cause of why a person feels the way they do, we can better understand them.
Unfortunately, I have learned that if your loved one died of the disease of addiction, or perhaps took their own life, oftentimes you are looked upon differently. This is where the look enters in.
There are those who truly believe that addiction and mental illness are not real diseases. I have actually had people tell me, “This is something they did to themselves.” If you are one of those people or know one of those people please hear me:
Regardless of the manner in which someone died, everyone deserves love, empathy and understanding. Not judgment!
What can we do about it? Enlightening and explaining helps, but I have also learned to walk in forgiveness, which isn’t a feeling but a decision. I have chosen to forgive those who have been judgmental, due to their ignorance, and the assumptions they have made about me or my family. Only God knows the heart of a man (Romans 8:27) and our Creator is the only person we should be concerned with.
Friends, grief will touch us all at some point in our lives. How we engage with those who are grieving says more about us than it does about them. May we all extend love and when necessary, forgiveness to those who need it.