As more and more people get comfortable sharing their deeper emotions about what’s going on in their lives, we are seeing a trend of online grief shaming. Sadly, people are finding that when they are open about a loss, change, or experience of grief there are those who can’t handle their openness. It’s time for a discussion about this trend and how we can stop it.
The more and more I experience and research grief, the more I see how uncomfortable people are with the topic. They go to great lengths to avoid it, down play it, and make a joke out of the whole experience. Let’s set the record straight first: grief occurs for a variety of reasons in our lives. A death or loss, a move, a change in identity, a rite of passage. All of these can cause grief. Take it a step further: YOU can even be grateful for what you have and grieve what you don’t. Unfortunately, people don’t realize this.
Society and generations before us have given us the mentality that grief is bad, causes suffering and should be avoided. When we grow up believing this, then it gets easy to react negatively to grief. We can be understanding of short-term grief, but anything that goes beyond the length of time we believe grief should last and we can get rude.
“Don’t you think it’s time to move on?”
“Are you really still sad about this?”
“Your generation seems to hold on to things a lot longer than we did when I was younger.”
All I read is grief shaming.
How Can We Change Online Grief Shaming?
We all know that when we post something online, we open ourselves up to the thoughts and opinions of others. They do not always stop and filter what they write, so how can we help them understand there is no room for grief shaming? By calling it out and setting a boundary.
“I don’t think it’s time to move on, and I believe if you think about it, you are grief shaming me. Please do not do this. Your grief timeline is different from mine.”
“Yes, I am still sad about this. You are grief shaming me, and I would appreciate it if you would stop. I get to choose how long I am sad about something.”
“I understand you grew up in a different way, but I believe how I grieve is my decision and not about being inconvenient for others. Please do not grief shame me.”
The times of “suck it up and move on” are coming to an end in our world, and more and more people are seeing that that old mentality is what has led to a lot of unhealthy behaviors (think addictions and escapism) and mental health issues. We are realizing that it is healthy to grieve on our own timeline about what we need to grieve. On top of that, we are having to do a lot of the grief work generations before us didn’t do to heal negative patterns that have been passed down.
You get to choose the “rules” of how you grieve. No one else can take that from you; however, through online grief shaming, they may try to get you to conform to their beliefs. You don’t have to AND even better, you get to be the change that needs to happen to stop this trend. Take it in little steps since sometimes it can feel uncomfortable to confront someone in this way. Remember they responded out of their own belief system, and it’s ok for you to remind them that respecting someone and their process is many times more important than responding to a post you don’t agree with.
Have thoughts about ways to stop online grief shaming? Share them in the comments below.