How do you cope with people telling you how to grieve?

Hi, my beautiful husband, best friend and soul mate died in December 2023. It was sudden and unexpected. He had gone through treatment for throat cancer. He was clear of cancer when he died. He suffered from a blood clot haemorrhage in the throat and he died right in front of me in our bedroom. He was 47. Everything has felt unreal since. The loss is so overwhelming and profound and I have never experienced anything like it before and no clue how to navigate it. I am struggling to deal with colleagues who keep giving me unsolicited advice. They keep telling me to talk to someone, to go out for a walk, the way I am dealing with it is unhealthy and that I need to let go. I honestly don’t know how to respond to them. It’s making me feel so much worse. One person even said “it’s been 4 months so surely you don’t feel as bad as you did on day one”. I know they all mean well and it’s coming from a place of kindness but I feel pressure to”get better” and move on. I don’t think I have even started processing it. Thankfully I am on a gradual phased return at work and WFH. I feel so alone. Does anyone have advice on how to deal with such statements? I don’t want to be rude to anyone but I cannot deal with the expectations to follow a certain process to get through this nightmare.

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So sorry for your loss @GGA
4 months is nothing on this journey called grief. People that haven’t been on the same journey can’t possibly know how we feel, which makes it hard for them to know what to say.
I personally am going to try counselling but I know thats not for everyone
I’m lucky that my family and friends are very supportive, but I’m only 2 months in so maybe that will change…
I’m afraid I don’t know if I’ve helped. I don’t know what to suggest you say to the people who think you should be feeling better by now. But please know that by posting on here you have come to a community of like minded people who do understand your turmoil, we’re all on the same horrendous journey
Take care
Love and hugs

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Most people are generally kind and mean well but unfortunately unless they have been through the loss of a spouse then they have no clue and should not be giving any advice on grieving. Be choosy who you talk to about your grief, those people that listen instead of giving their ‘opinion’.
I generally where possible avoided those people or gave them a wide birth, or cut the conversation short by saying I am doing the best I can understand the circumstances and leave it at that. You owe nobody an explanation for your loss/grief, you will deal with things in your own way and time. Spend that time when you need to with people that can just sit with you and be there, nothing more. You have no expectations to meet only your own.

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Hi @GGA

I’m glad that you’re on a phased return and that you wfh. I’m the same.

Personally, I would tell my line manager what you’ve told us. They need to support you through the transition back into full-time working, and if they’re anything like my line manager they’ll be dismayed by your experience and will want to put it right straight away. Perhaps with some informal bereavement training, or by telling your colleagues just to say nothing at all, if they can’t say anything supportive and empathetic.

It’s a different scenario, but when they moved my equal in work into another team with no communication about the move, I approached my line manager and explained that it was having a detrimental effect on me because it pretty much meant that my workload had doubled. Within an hour, her boss had had a video call with me, and they’d communicated to the team that I am not taking on the other person’s work and that it needs to be shared out within the team.

Talk to your line manager: it’s their duty to make being in work feel OK for you.

:yellow_heart:

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Im so sorry for your loss. I lost my mum who i was incredibly close to, and have found myself frustrated with the terrible and often insensitive advice of others (albeit im sure its well intentioned). For close friends i have tried to tactfully explain “this isnt helpful” and why, for others I’ve learnt just not to talk to certain people about my grief and divert to safe topics! One author and therapist i would recommend if youve not come across her yet is Megan Devine - she has a website/podcasts and has written a book “its ok that you’re not ok”. She lost her husband in an accident and writes with real empathy about how everyone wants to move you on, their instinctive desire take away your pain, but that actually you need people to just acknowledge your pain, and let you hurt, and support you just by being there. :heart:

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So sorry for your loss, it is unbelievable that some people can be so insensitive and rude. I really think the more we love the more we grieve.All I can say is that we all grieve in our own way, Take as long as you need , there are no rules . Take great care, grief is spul destroying and exhausting .

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Soul destroying …sorry

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So sorry for your loss. I don’t think people mean to be rude or insensitive, but they simply don’t know what we’re all going through, and they want you to be ‘back to normal’ because it makes them feel more comfortable talking to you, It’s still very early days. A good suggestion to talk to your line manager; really, everyone in workplaces needs to have sessions on how to talk to those who have suffered bereavement, as it will happen, sadly, in every workplace at some time.

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@GGA On my first day back at work there was a new member of the team.
She was trying too hard with me and suddenly blurted out ‘you will get over this’…
I couldn’t speak, I was so angry and it’s been eating me up.
I discussed this yesterday at my counselling session and today I spoke to person involved. I calmy told her (privately) I was angry with the words she’d used, that she had negated my feelings and couldn’t possibly know what I had been through and whether I would ‘get over this’… I suggested we start again as working in a tense environment is no good for anyone.
She was mortified that her words had caused so much upset. She genuinely believed she was being helpful, thoughtful. She apologised.
We agreed to start again!
If you feel strong enough, try to tell people that you realise their suggestions are supposed to be helpful but they make you uncomfortable and it’s not helping you…

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I used to be so free and easy with my socialising, and now I hate everything that people say. I can only converse with people on here, my mum, brother and best friend. Everyone else just says stupid things, whether they have lost a parent or not.

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So sorry for your loss GGA its just so terrible what people expect us to do Im like you 4 months on this terrible journey Me too lost my husband suddenly December 23rd after arriving in Spain to celebrate Christmas hrs before in bed in front of myself and adult son Now like you my family are expecting me to be feeling better but truthfully now realising he’s never coming home and wont see him again Been together 40 yrs after meeting at 15 he ws only 57yrs old and full of life Ive now starting chosing who i want to see and be with because its very exusting putting a face on when your insides are jumping all over the place and listening to everyone else getting on with life All i can say is be selfish if thats what it is just now cause truthfully we can only look after ourselves Please take care and keep talking x

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Such early days – you must feel so raw.
I used to think that people didn’t know what to say, but they meant well and just wanted me to stop hurting, because they couldn’t understand how much I hurt. Today, I think that they want me to be ‘over it’ and back to my old self so they can relax and not be concerned about saying the wrong things. They’ve ‘moved on’ from losing a friend, which is a normal thing to do, but I still miss her all day, every day, I cope day-to-day, not well, but I do.

I understand that you don’t want to be rude, who does? But you have to protect yourself. These days, when they say things that I find upsetting, I just say “I know you mean well, but you can’t understand where I am so please stop now”. That usually shuts them up, even if it makes for an embarrassing silence.

You are in very early days, a stranger in a strange land. You didn’t ask to come here, but here you are. The only advice I can offer is to protect yourself. Be kind to yourself. It’s ok to be not ok. I can’t say when or if it’ll get any better, time doesn’t heal, but it does numb some of the real pain you are experiencing right now. Oh, and there is nothing you can say to friends/colleagues that will make them appreciate how you actually feel, it just can’t be done. So be polite, but be firm.

Look after yourself at your own pace.

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So sorry for your loss its heartbreaking i find the same thing people tell me to move on, think positive etc its been 16 months for me my husband died unexpectedly at age of 59 we had been together from age 17 all our adult life , im like you too polite to tell them, unless they gone through it they havnt got a clue how much painful emotions we go through in grief , x

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Thank you all for your kind messages and taking the time to respond to me. I haven’t got the words to express how much every single message has felt like a hug and validation. I was worried I was overreacting to this and actually their comments had me feeling I was making a mountain out of a molehill and doing it wrong. You are all right, there is not one person that has come from a malicious place, they all mean well but their comments, however benign, can have such debilitating effects. Thank you all for being there. It’s such an horrific place we have all found ourselves but we can be there for each other :heart:

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I often quote my mum
Who said to me when you are in same boat yiu will know and i do

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So true its an awful place to be x