“Pull Yourself Together” and Other Things Not To Say

On 20th November I posted a meltdown message. I won’t repeat it here; suffice to say it concerns a member of my family telling me I needed to ‘pull myself together’. I used social media to have a full-blown rant at the suggestion. Again, I got amazing support from people who often didn’t know me and I was thankful for that, as I may otherwise have thought I was insane.

A suggestion: think before you say anything at all to someone who is grieving. It may sound sensible to you but it is unlikely to be received in the same way. I found the best thing people could say to me was just “I’m so sorry for your loss” or “I have no words”. The latter is especially welcome and poignant. Indeed you do not have any words that are going to make this any better and I appreciate that you can see that.

Please, please, please, don’t ignore it though. I save special ire to those who didn’t have the good grace to say they were sorry; those who just ignored it because (hopefully at least) they ‘didn’t know what to say’. Find a way to say it – see above – acknowledge there is an elephant in the room with a big G on his back and that said elephant is big and black and standing on the toe of the person you are speaking too. There are people I will never speak to again because they didn’t acknowledge the fact I’d lost my Gail

Sometimes it goes deeper than that though. A well-meaning colleague told me he ‘understood how I felt as he’d lost his Aunt a couple of years back’. I was astounded. “You were in an intimate relationship with your Aunt?” I asked. “Well, no I didn’t mean…..” “Well, it’s not the same fucking thing is it?” Grief takes away the social etiquette blocks so be prepared.

To my mind losing the love of your life is only trumped by losing a child. The latter is an abomination; life is not supposed to work that way. Anything else is natural. Upsetting, of course, and it needs to be dealt with in its own way, but passing elderly family members – however much you loved them – does not compare to losing your life partner.

I will probably come back to this

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