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Psychotherapist Explains Why We Should Let Our Grieving Friends Be In Pain Instead Of Trying To Cheer Them Up
151points
6.1K
Other2 years ago

Psychotherapist Explains Why We Should Let Our Grieving Friends Be In Pain Instead Of Trying To Cheer Them Up

You won’t heal somebody’s pain by trying to take it away from them. Megan Devine, a psychotherapist and writer of Refuge in Grief has created an insightful animation that talks about the alternative. Even though it may sound counter-intuitive, Devine argues that acknowledging your friend’s pain will help them much more than telling them to cheer up or look on the bright side.

More info: refugeingrief.com

“I started my professional career as a psychotherapist in 2001,” Devine wrote on her website. “In those first years, I worked with people wrestling with substance addiction and patterns of homelessness. In subsequent years, I worked with private practice clients facing decades-old abuse, trauma, and grief. Way back before I became a therapist, I worked in sexual violence education and advocacy. Through it all, I studied the cutting edge of emotional literacy and resilience (and being the social anthropologist I am, I also studied comparative religion, mythology, women’s history, and the use of art for social change).”

The psychotherapist had helped people explore their inner worlds, hear their own hearts, find truth and meaning in their lives. And then, on a perfectly ordinary summer day in 2009, she watched my partner drown. “Matt was strong, fit, and healthy – just three months from his fortieth birthday. It was random, unexpected, and it tore my world apart.”

“When sudden death erupted into my life, all my professional experience felt meaningless. None of what I knew applied to loss of that magnitude. None of what I’d learned mattered. I quit my practice the day Matt died. I never saw my clients again.”

“In those early days of my own grief, real talk – real help – was extremely hard to find. Back then, there were very few people talking about grief as anything other than pathology, or some unfortunate thing you just had to shake off and get back to your normal, happy life.”

That endless search for real support and understanding, “with all its dead ends and wrong turns and disappointments” is why Devine does the work she does now.

Watch the entire video below

Here’s what said about it

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Daria Z
Community Member
2 years ago

I agree. Telling someone to cheer up sounds like telling them you're uncomfortable near them and that they have to fix it asap by cheering up. In other words, it sounds very selfish.

Drive Bee
Community Member
2 years ago

Yes, exactly. They don't realize it or mean it that way but they have no idea what it's like. You never do until it happens to you.

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Demi Zwaan
Community Member
2 years ago

That last comment is very disrespectful. People who say 'cheer up' are not always 'not a safe person' or 'don't want to know/don't care'. They are often people who don't know how to help someone, who genuinely care, but never learned how to deal with other people's pain. They themselves were always comforted by others saying 'cheer up' and even though it might not have helped them, they know no other way to react. They're still good people.

WillemPenn
Community Member
2 years ago

Saying that someone is 'not a safe person' to share grief, sadness or depression with is not the same as saying that someone is a bad person, just that they do not possess the skills for handling the situation. In the same way my butcher is not a safe person to approach for open heart surgery. My four year old niece is not a safe person to ask to chauffeur for me. Good people, but not safe in certain situations.

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IAin'tWoke
Community Member
2 years ago

People need to go through pain, it's a part of life - it's the same with depression. Let people cry, scream and shout - it will make them feel better. It makes people feel worse when you pester them, tell them to smile or cheer up. Crying is one of the best medicines for any situation.

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Daria Z
Community Member
2 years ago

I agree. Telling someone to cheer up sounds like telling them you're uncomfortable near them and that they have to fix it asap by cheering up. In other words, it sounds very selfish.

Drive Bee
Community Member
2 years ago

Yes, exactly. They don't realize it or mean it that way but they have no idea what it's like. You never do until it happens to you.

Load More Replies...
Demi Zwaan
Community Member
2 years ago

That last comment is very disrespectful. People who say 'cheer up' are not always 'not a safe person' or 'don't want to know/don't care'. They are often people who don't know how to help someone, who genuinely care, but never learned how to deal with other people's pain. They themselves were always comforted by others saying 'cheer up' and even though it might not have helped them, they know no other way to react. They're still good people.

WillemPenn
Community Member
2 years ago

Saying that someone is 'not a safe person' to share grief, sadness or depression with is not the same as saying that someone is a bad person, just that they do not possess the skills for handling the situation. In the same way my butcher is not a safe person to approach for open heart surgery. My four year old niece is not a safe person to ask to chauffeur for me. Good people, but not safe in certain situations.

Load More Replies...
IAin'tWoke
Community Member
2 years ago

People need to go through pain, it's a part of life - it's the same with depression. Let people cry, scream and shout - it will make them feel better. It makes people feel worse when you pester them, tell them to smile or cheer up. Crying is one of the best medicines for any situation.

Load More Comments
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