Grief Made Me Do It December 16, 2021

Grief Made Me Do It

Is “grief made me do it” an excuse for poor behavior?

 

Have you heard the story about the packages that were thrown off a ravine by a delivery driver. Over the course of 6 different trips an Alabama delivery truck driver tossed approximately 450 packages off a ravine. When questioned about the incidents the man claimed that “grief made me do it.” He claims that he was having a hard time in life and was mourning the loss of a family member. 

 

Is grief a reasonable excuse for poor behavior?

 Should we have empathy for him or even give him a pass on his behavior? I am sure there are so many opinions on this case in particular. If you were to see the story, from the outside looking in, most people would condemn the behavior and claim grief wasn’t the cause of his actions. 

 

Chances are that very few of us have gone to the extremes of chucking tens of thousands of dollars worth of other people’s property off of a ravine. However have you ever found yourself making choices you wouldn’t normally make as you grieve? We all have a list of values we uphold when we are feeling our best. Who hasn’t gone outside of your values while dealing with grief. 

 

Some examples of going outside of your personal values can be as simple as eating chocolate ice cream every night for a week. Flipping the bird to an annoying driver who is getting on your nerves. Maybe you are calm, cool and collected most of the time. When grief takes up our emotional energy it can be easy to go outside of your character. 

 

Taking Responsibility

It is important that each of us take full responsibility for ourselves. Only we have control over what we say and do. It is a choice only we can make when it comes to the actions we choose to take or not take even when we grieve. My kids like to say to me,” you made me do this or my sister made me do it.” I always joke that if I could “make” you do things you would call me beautiful and clean the house without being asked, but of course that is not the case. The moral of the story is that YOU are responsible for you even when you grieve.

 

HOWEVER….

Holding space for others’ grief and being empathetic toward what they are going through even if it produces behavior that is out of character is healthy. Not only is it healthy, it is necessary. Having a little non judgemental empathy may be a catalyst to others healing.

 

The example of the delivery driver is an extreme example and it is easy to look at him as simply a bad guy. Most likely he hadn’t been able to process his grief in a healthy way. He is responsible for his actions and will pay for it in the court of law. However, being empathetic toward those who may say the grief made me do it, might go a long way. 

 

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