Reject the ‘J’ Word that Devastates Grievers

young woman crying_hands covering faceThe ‘J’ word that devastates grievers is something you probably would not intentionally do.  But you might unconsciously allow it to sneak in and influence what you think, do, or say. 

We’ve all been guilty of engaging in this behavior at one time or another.  No one wants to admit it, but we draw conclusions all the time based on what we see.  Sometimes the opinions we reach are not only unfair but unwise, and even hurtful, because what we see can be misleading.  If you haven’t already guessed, the ‘J’ word that devastates grievers is ‘judging.’

‘Judging’ can be dangerous regardless of its target; yet, when it concerns someone’s grief—no one should be making a judgment.

The Problem with ‘Judging’ Grief/Grievers

Here’s where the problem lies.  We have no idea what’s going on inside other people, and we don’t know what has happened to them.  We have not lived their story. 

We have no idea what (or how) they are thinking.  We have different emotional temperaments, experiences, and ways of processing what we are going through.  We don’t share the same history of loss or understanding of grief.  

As individuals, we are unique and our grief is different.  In fact, one grief experience differs from another in our own lives—much less the added differences between people.

Some of us know better (including me), yet we sometimes catch ourselves falling into the trap of ‘judging’ what we think we see.  Someone may not look like they are grieving.  Yet, we see so little.

Thoughtless Comments Hurt

Thoughtless comments on social media recently caused undue heartache for a widow I know.  She had stood beside and supported her husband through an extended, debilitating illness before he died – and soon afterward she traveled to visit a wonderful, supportive friend.  When folks saw her enjoying herself and relaxing (probably for the first time in many months), some of them drew unfortunate conclusions and posted insensitive comments.  She was hurt.  No one needs this kind of heartache in addition to the profound pain of grief. 

We don’t see what goes on when a griever is alone and wrestling with a deep loss–day after day and night after night.  We don’t see what the person went through leading up to the loss.  We don’t see the struggles to adjust to the effects of the loss.  We don’t see the loneliness and isolation a griever goes through in a deeply personal way.  We don’t see the self-questioning and fear.  We see so little

Appearances Are Deceptive

We may catch glimpses of a griever enjoying time out and about with friends, or traveling to new places, or making a move, or changing the way they look, or, God forbid, laughing!  These little snapshots we see may be radically different from the reality of their day-to-day life.  Appearances can be deceptive.

No one has the right, nor should they, judge another person’s grief.  Any time we get into judging or comparing one person’s grief to another’s, we are just plain wrong!  It’s none of our business.  It’s impossible to fairly and honestly make an assumption.  And it’s hurtful to the griever.  

People try the best way they can to face grief.  In my experience, no one is prepared, nor could they be. 

If you happen to catch yourself judging, STOP!  Be aware of what you’re thinking – and don’t continue once you recognize what you’re doing.  

Grievers Need Breaks from Grief—and Enjoyment Is a Blessing!

Grief is entirely devastating all by itself.  Grievers do not need the added stress and unhappiness of anyone making judgments about their grief journey or behavior.  When a griever finds ways to enjoy life during grief – and to smile and laugh – bravo!  

Every griever needs breaks from grief.  Grieving is too hard, too draining, and too stressful to go through 24/7.  Breaks give the griever a little relief – and a chance to build strength and hope.  Both are necessary for continuing through the grief process.

So, please, be aware and reject any type of judging behavior.  It isn’t good for you, and it isn’t good for anyone else, either.

© 2017 Judy Brizendine

Photo credit:  Elena Ferrer,

Related articles:

Don’t tell someone how to grieve; don’t judge someone for grieving their own way – Megan Roantree, Her magazine/website
Don’t Judge My Grief – John Pete, Open to Hope website
When Grief Turns Your Family and Social Group Upside Down – Cath Duncan, Remembering for Good website
Grief Shaming: Who Made You the Grief Police?Psychology Today, Pamela Cytrynbaum


Please follow, like us, and share:

Tags: , , , , ,

2 Responses to “Reject the ‘J’ Word that Devastates Grievers”

  1. Such an important message, Judy ~ and well worth sharing. Blessings to you, and thank you!

    • admin says:

      Thank you so much, Marty! I appreciate your kind words, and I always respect your opinion.

      Blessings to you, too, and thank you for your wonderful work to love and support grievers!