Posted by: CeCe | April 13, 2012

Get over it!

I was watching a TV show some time back, and something said in it really struck me.  One of the characters was a teenage girl whose parents had both been killed in a car accident about four months prior to where the story begins.  At one point, one of her teachers says to her that it’s been four months, so it’s time she started getting over it.  I thought, get over it?!  What kind of person would be so stupid/insensitive to say something like that?

But then I started thinking about it, and I realized that it was the same thing that some people told me when my father died.  Keep in mind, I was 10 when my dad died, still a child.  And there were people who told me that since it had been a few months or a couple years, that I should be “over it”.

Here’s the thing:
You never get “over it”.  Whether you lose your parents young like I did, or lose them at the age you’re supposed to (like when you’re in your 60s and your parents are at least in their 80s and they die of old age), you never “get over it”.  Of all the types of losses out there, losing parents is amongst the hardest.  The others are losing a spouse, losing a child, and losing a friend; of those, losing a child being the worst.  The other three (losing parents, losing a spouse, losing a friend) happen to almost everyone at some point.

But I digress.  The other truly insensitive thing that people said sometimes after my dad died was, “I know how you feel.”  I remember thinking in my ten year old mind, “No, you don’t!”  Some of them had lost parents, yes.  But none of them had lost parents at 10.  Or 28.  Parents are supposed to die when their kids and grandkids are grown, that’s the natural order to things.  What is not natural is losing parents before that point.  So no, they did not know how I felt.  I was a child who had just lost her daddy.  They were adults whose parents were still alive, or who had buried their parents when they were supposed to.  It’s not the same thing at all.  Now granted, losing a parent is hard at any age, I know that, but it’s different when you’re young, because on top of the actual loss itself, there is the fact that they’re going to miss so much of your life, including things that they shouldn’t miss.  Like my dad should have been there when I graduated from middle school.  He also should have been there when I graduated from high school.  He should have been the one to walk me down the aisle.  He should have been able to meet all of his grandchildren, instead of just the first two.  He should have been able to see his oldest granddaughter get married.  He should have been standing beside both of his sons when they got married, and when his older daughter (my sister) got remarried.  He and my mom should have been able to celebrate 50 years of marriage, instead of less than 34.  The list goes on and on.

So no, unless you have lost a parent long before their time, you don’t know how someone who is facing that loss feels.  Stop saying you do.  It’s not the same thing.

And most of all, understand that a person who has experienced an immense loss is not just going to “get over it”.  You never get over losing someone you love, ever.  Sure, it may become easier as time passes, but that wound never heals completely, and there are some days where it’s going to be excruciating.  That never changes.

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Responses

  1. Grief makes people uncomfortable. Our society does not like to deal with death. People tell you to stop crying even when crying is what you’re supposed to be doing. And while your world is crashing down around you, the earth keeps turning, the sun keeps shining, and life goes on whether you want it to or not. I think the hardest part is after the funeral. Because that’s when everyone else returns to their lives and you’re forced into a new life. One that’s in shattered pieces you have to force together. And yes, somehow, someday, this new existence does become normality. But it is never, ever the same. And neither are you.

    This really spoke to me. I went through many of these thoughts and emotions when my stepmother passed away five years ago. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her still. I’m going through a lot of it now as well. Just over a month ago I lost an uncle very unexpectedly. I’m actually sitting in his old office right now. I’ve been staying with my widowed aunt a lot and helping her adjust. I would never dream of telling her to “get over it.” When she needs to cry, I let her. When she needs to talk, I listen. We grieve together. I have a degree in psychology and I know the difference between normal and abnormal behavior when it comes to these things. She takes comfort in me telling her that she’s doing exactly what she’s supposed to be doing right now. And that there’s not a damn thing wrong with grieving.

    Thanks for posting this. I think I needed to read it.

    • Yes, I agree, people are really uncomfortable with grief. I always thought that the hardest part of losing a loved one was after the funeral too; up to that point, everyone is so sympathetic and helpful, but then they want to get back to their own lives.

      I’m sorry for your losses too, and I’m glad that you got something from my blog. 🙂


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