Get Over It! (and other bits of unhelpful advice)Oct 01, 2019
Many of us have been told what not to say to someone who is sad and grieving. The problem with a list of “don'ts” is that it is easy to forget them and say what we have learned from others throughout life. The reality is that things sometimes pop out of our mouths before we think of how those comments might be perceived and/or received.
There is an enormous difference between “intention” and “perception”. Most people never intend to upset someone who is sad or grieving by offering advice. They are desperately want to provide help and support. The problem arises in how the griever perceives the comment. Grievers may have a reduced sense of concentration and may be highly sensitive to what they hear. Things that they might normally ignore can cut like a knife to the heart. These well-intentioned remarks need to be avoided. One such remark is -
“Get Over It!”
After an arbitrary amount of time, many people think that the passage of that time should somehow make a difference in how someone who is grieving responds to their loss. This is frequently when people tell them that they need to “Get over it!” The reality is that when something major happens in our lives, we will “get through” it but we never “get over” it. The memories of that event will be with us forever.
Telling someone to get over it often perceived as telling that person that the loss they experienced is not significant enough to continue to impact their life. If that loss was significant enough to cause grief, it will continue to impact their life to some degree. The degree of the impact is not controlled by time. Time only passes by and sets that emotional pain into place as part of their “new normal”. When that happens, not only does the griever not get over it, but rather continues to live that pain silently. They start stuffing their feelings to avoid hearing this painful suggestion again and again.
It is what a griever does with time that will help them to move towards recovery.
A far better thing to do is to let them know that it is possible to take grief recovery action to lessen that emotional pain. By taking such action, they will be able, once again, to enjoy the many positive memories of that relationship.