Grief shaming is a newer term being used to describe when someone put their own judgment on the way somebody else is grieving. When we make a decision about someone else’s grief and how they express it publicly, it can be considered grief shaming.
Talking about grief can be a precarious subject. Feelings of discomfort can accompany these conversations. Not knowing how much to say, too much, too little. How to support others who are grieving or how to ask for support in our own grief.
Grief Shaming Can Look Like:
Have you ever heard anyone make comments about other people’s grief? Something as simple as making a statement such as, “I have never even seen her cry.” This statement may seem harmless but essentially it is one way of question and making decisions about the way that someone is grieving. As if to say something is wrong with the way she is grieving because “you” have never seen her cry.
One way that grief shaming happens is by minimizing whatever is being felt. An example I have come across is when an ex spouse or significant other passes away. There is often judgment placed on someone who grieves deeply for an ex. Statements such as, “you weren’t even married”, or “you didn’t even like them”. It’s as if to say because you had conflict with them in life you are not allowed to grieve them in their death which is clearly not true. Everyone grieves uniquely.
There are so many ways that grief can be minimized, judged and devalued.
Grief Shaming might look like the statements below:
“Why are you so upset, you didn’t even get along with your Dad?”
“How could you not have known they were so depressed?”
“I have never even seen you cry about their death.”
“You already took your wedding ring off?”
Another way that grief shaming can happen is the suggestion that we shouldn’t grieve a person because of bad relationships or bad behavior surrounding them. For example if someone struggles with addiction and succumbs to it, that “we should have known this was going to happen”. Another example could be someone who contributes to their dysfunction being told that they shouldn’t grieve so hard because they should have known better.
“Paved with Good Intentions”
Many people have good intentions and may simply be making an observation. It is important to be careful about making judgments about how someone shows their grief publicly. We all grieve differently. You never know how someone is dealing with their grief in their head or when they are alone or with close support people. In addition to that it is not our job to make decisions about others grief because that is where the grief shaming starts to happen.
Grief Shaming by unintentionally.
Grief shaming can absolutely happen accidently but it is important to take notice of our own behaviors. The best way to avoid grief shaming is to be a curious and empathic support. Ask questions to understand rather than make assumptions. Allow each person a judgment free space to experience grief in their own way. Reach out for additional grief support if you are struggling.