Sunday, July 14, 2019

first, do no harm

Let's be real.

We are all the walking wounded.

My world revolves around death: before-death, death-death, after-death.

Conversation topics surrounding all of these developmental stages of death seem to trend.

A couple of common issues that have been surfacing, and giving me pause, are judging how people treat us within the grieving process and self-judgment about how we are perceived in the grieving process. 

We hear the list of insulting behaviors that are witnessed; what this person said or didn't say, the tone of their voice, the use of the double etrende, comparing griefs (ie my plant died in response to your dog dying), or . . . disappearing.

Usually these accounts are from a perspective of the reporter feeling victimized. 

How could anyone be so thoughtless.

And admittedly a couple of times I had a knee-jerk–– what a callous so and so–– response. 

Almost as quickly as my knee near-missed my chin, the thought came to me–– it's as if we think no one else has experienced great loss and that the commenters are flying by the seat of their pants, when in actuality, the vast majority of the walking ARE the wounded.


Perspective changer.

How often do we see how someone else's trauma brings our own back up? 

Yep, you've got it. A trigger.

Consider that some of the people that are making the most awkward comments may be the ones who are struggling the most with their own losses.

Aw, yeah, but I know them, they didn't have it so bad. 

One rule of grief?

I don't get to decide how difficult someone else's experience was; we all hold our own personal grief/stress-richter scales. 

I adore Deepak Chopra's book, Seven Spiritual Laws of Success that I have used as my own personal how-to manual since the 90's when a walking partner and fellow mom of young children told me about it.

In the very first law, The Law of Pure Potentiality, Chopra stresses the need to practice non-judgment.

Within that space of non-judgment we make the promise to attempt to catch ourselves when we are being judgmental about others and ourselves. Even positive judgments are judgments and those will certainly arise when the person does the "just right thing" in response to our grief.

How about we try to retrain our knee-jerk impulse to negatively judge how someone reacts to our trauma and resort to what we know for sure: we have no idea what this trauma is bringing up for them so maybe they are just doing the best they can.

And since we are about increasing conversations surrounding death, why not take the next step and give them feedback, in the moment, about how they have responded: thanks for your input, but it really doesn't resonate for me; I'd love for your to explain what you mean by that statement; thanks for trying . . . 

During a time of anguish, we do not need more pain and angst. 

I prefer to try to see us all as the walking wounded and hope that my major trauma balances out your major trauma, on the calendar, so that I may be emotionally available to you. 

But if I fail? 

Please know that I care deeply and I feel deeply and those two things may have collided in a way that leave me less than eloquent in my feedback and condolences, but it does not diminish my wish that you pass through your grief as gently as possible. 

And while you are at it? 

Give yourself a pass and refrain from over-analyzing your emotional responses and reactions.

Practice the premise: first, do no harm. 

And the person to check in with first and make sure you are not harming? 


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