The Mourner's Bill of Rights (or The Good, the Bad and the Ugly)

Linda was a new widow, and her dear husband of 41 years had died.  One day, while out for coffee, her friend said “Well, it’s been three months since Don died, I think it is time for you to move on.”  Linda’s grief was still so raw, and she was so shocked that she did not know what to say.  

Have you too had something weird, something offensive like that said to you?  

People mean well when they give advice but often they don’t truly understand your loss.  They blurt out something that they hope will be helpful.   You need to decide if it is helpful or maybe even harmful.  The trouble is that you may have never walked this journey before and it is hard to know the difference. 

That’s why the Mourner’s Bill of Rights was born.  It will give you greater confidence to leave unhelpful advice and not take it to heart.  It will empower you to sort it all out.  The eight rights cover emotional,  physical and spiritual aspects. 

I am excited about it and I think you are going to really like it.  In this blog post, I will explain why people don’t “get it” and in my next blog posts I will continue to explain the Mourners Bill of Rights. 

Why do you need a Bill of Rights? 

Getting back to Linda, she was too taken back to respond, so her friend continued, “You look pretty good for 61 years old, I can get you set up on that e-harmony dating site.”  She thought she was doing Linda a favour.  People like this mean well but the reality is that they do not understand the grief journey.   

•    Our culture does not teach it. Instead it avoids loss and grief – even from childhood.  A child comes home from Kindergarten crying that someone was mean to them.  Their parent said, “Don’t cry, have a cookie”.  The lesson is not to cry and to divert your attention with a little sugar.  Then as adults, people say, “Be strong” and “Try these lemon squares” (or something stronger then sugar).  They are usually uncomfortable with true emotions.  Linda’s friend wanted divert her from the loss with e-harmony. 

•    Others say cliches because that is what they have heard.  Aunt Mary said it and it sounded pretty good so they repeat it to you,  “God needed another angel” as though that makes any sense, or “It happened for a reason”.   They don’t really know if it is helpful but that is the best they have to offer.  They are hoping it might work for you. 

•    They intellectualize and say, “He’s in a better place” or  “He lead a full life”.   They are avoiding the emotions and appealing to your intellect. Your brain may agree because your brain is not broken, BUT it is our heart that is broken.  That is where love lives, and that is where our pain is.  Speaking to our intellect does not comfort our broken heart. 

•    They think that the way they feel is the way you feel too – but their loss so much less.   They may have spent 1-2 hours a month with your loved one and they are moving on.  You spent every day for 10- 24 hrs with your loved one for decades.  Their life has not been shattered but yours has been changed in every way. 

When someone has an amputation, they need rest, support and recuperation.  They have to learn new life skills and they need a vision for how to go forward in a life so changed.  My clients come in and say, “I feel like my right arm has been amputated” and emotionally and spiritually, it has been.  They too need rest, recuperation and support.  They need to learn new life skills and they too need a vision that the pain will soften and how to go forward in a life dramatically changed.  

I want to give you the entire Bill of Rights right away because I am so excited that about it.  I think you will love it.  It will empower you to finally have a tool to help you sort out the good, the bad and the ugly advice.  But in my next blog post I will explain how to powerfully apply it in your life.  You will learn how to

  • ensure that you are free to do the grief work that you need to do
  • ensure that people do not press you into their ideas and unrealistic expectations 
  • ensure that there are no blocks in your path to healing 

Here it is: 

The Mourner's Bill of Rights

1. I have the right to experience my own personal, unique grief.

2. I have the right to embrace my grief and heal.

3. I have the right to feel many different emotions including             Surges of grief.

4.  I have the right to treasure my memories.

5. I have the right to respect my own physical & emotional limits.

6. I have the right to talk about my grief.

7. I have the right to embrace my spirituality.

8. I have the right to search for meaning.

See you next time for more on the Mourner's Bill of Rights!

Big Hugs,

Coach Helga

Check out other helpful blog articles including : 

Five Lessons Learned in the Fire, 

 Birthday Parties in Heaven, 

He is not here,

Just Tell Me What Happened  

The Worst Nightmare

plus helpful Renewing Resilience Tips.  or scroll down for more

If you are facing loss, get the support you deserve.  For additional resources, including a no-obligation introduction coaching session with Helga Bender, MThS, for help to move from ruin into rebuilding  click here.   

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