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Oversensitivity?


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At 15 months, I'm trying to learn to live with loss - but it is harder than I thought it would be. I think people have expected me to move on and stop all the self-pity. Is it self-pity or is it grief? Many of you on this site are still struggling with grief after several years (Marty reminded me of this).

What surprises me are all the people outside in the world who seem to have no sensitivity whatsoever. I recently attended a writer's conference in the states and met a lot of nice people. Some of them I've known for years. At the same time there were women who spoke loudly about their husbands, their long marriages and how glad they were that they had made it that far. They would joke about what they'd do if their husbands were to die, or what their husbands would do if they went first. They'd joke about how their husbands planned to live forever. Why this was a topic of conversation - I'm not sure. Maybe my widowhood was unsettling them, and that's what was on their minds.

Is it just me being overly sensitive - or would it be more normal to consider the widow standing right next to them before saying things like that? They all knew I was widowed a year ago. Did they think I was over it? Did they secretly want to hurt me? Or was it their fear talking?

At work the other day someone was actually making cremation jokes at lunch - while I was sitting there! My husband was cremated. I understand that people just don't think before they speak sometimes, but they kept doing it. When I mentioned it later to a couple of people - they just brushed it away, saying something about "oh, they probably weren't thinking - forget about it". So why didn't someone else stop them? Why didn't I stop them?

I don't know. I myself may not have been as sensitive as I should have been around those who had had this kind of loss, but I don't think I was ever this crass.

Should we expect people to show a little sensitivity at this point or do we just have to live with comments and behavior like this? Is this self-pity?

If so - how do I continue being out among people? I can't stay in my house forever. I have to work. And I should probably try to become social. But I'm not sure I can handle it. You never know when someone is going to say something stupid. How do the rest of you protect yourselves?

Melina

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Dear Melina,

Yes, people can and will be very insensitive at time. They are living in their own little bubble, not knowing, the words they speak can cut someone in grief right down to your core of your soul. When I hear things like that I just walk away. If those people really cared about you and your feelings. That would have sent them a very strong message without words from you. Your fellow workers, are not worth the time of day. They know what you went through and are still going through, again just walk away and find new friends, who have more respect for you as a person in grief. We all know that there is no time table to follow, nor should we.

I had an experience, when I pick up my new glasses. I got to the eye ware place when they opened. I took the stairs, and as I opened the door to the hallway leading to the store, an older couple came out of the elevator just ahead of me. I walked into the store right behind them, well wouldn't you know, the store only had, one person show up for work on time. The wife went first. The woman told me she would be with me in a few minutes. After 15 minutes another employee showed up, By this time there were 3 others behind me waiting for help. The new employee asked who was next. I said I am, well the woman husband said he had glasses that had came in to. I told him ho rude he was, to take the only other person to help him, and that he had no respect for others, that he could not even wait for his wife to get finished. He said " well you don't have to get mad about it." I calmly told him I was not mad, but hatted RUDE people. It took me another 20 minutes to get help. I told the person who waited on me they were wrong to take him next, when they had, four others waiting, and by the time I got done there were a few more.

When I run into rude people, I tell them so, most of the time it shuts them up or they leave, because I embarrassed them, for their actions or words. It works very well for me.

So Melina, you do not have to hide away in your home, just be brave, and tell them when they are insensitive, because it is not us it is them. It will make them think twice before they open their mouth again.

God Bless,

Dwayne

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Melina,

Yes I have been insulted by others remarks, many times, even from my family and also Mikes! I dont always handle it well, but try to tell myself they are clueless to this, and surely they dont mean to be hurtfull......anyhow try to walk away, the times I have such as leaving my parents home without saying goodbye.......I guess I got the point across! I know the people around me love me.......but fortunately they have not walked this path............Dave

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No you aren't being oversensitive. I've handled it by speaking up and saying something. I've learned to stand up and voice myself. Whether that's good or bad I don't know, but it's how I've dealt with unthinking people. They are out of line.

You're asking the wrong person about socialization...I haven't figured out that part yet. I was part of a couple, and it was easy to socialize, but now...I'm just alone. Women view me as a threat and men hope for something more and I don't want to deal with it, so I tend to hole up in my home way too much. Maybe someday when I don't have to work (or look for work) I will have more time for making the effort to socialize more. I know I'm alone too much.

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I think it depends on the situation.

If they should know better because they know me and what I am going through, I make a dignified but noticeable departure from the table/group. If there's a comment made to me about it I just say that it's hard to sit there and listen without getting upset. The point is made without the need to offend.

If they don't know me I don't feel that it's inconsiderate.

I was hurt last week when a woman in a social group situation went on about how much she had enjoyed the day with her daughter recently. That's fine of course. But the next comment that 'if you don't have family, you don't have anything' cut into my soul. The tears filled my eyes but I agree with her totally!!

A friend covered the gaffe by asking me about something unrelated immediately and the others changed the subject.

Melina, I put these situations down to just another trial that I have to go through. I don't need the aggravation but it is going to happen from time to time. The hurt shows on my face - I don't need to say anything to them...Susie Q

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Melina,

I also do not think your over sensitive I just think people who are going to comfort a person or be around them know the simple things as they do not understand so we must teach them...

NATS

Comments to avoid when comforting the bereaved

"I know how you feel." One can never know how another may feel. You could, instead, ask your friend to tell you how he or she feels.

"It's part of God's plan." This phrase can make people angry and they often respond with, "What plan? Nobody told me about any plan."

"Look at what you have to be thankful for." They know they have things to be thankful for, but right now they are not important.

"He's in a better place now." The bereaved may or may not believe this. Keep your beliefs to yourself unless asked.

"This is behind you now; it's time to get on with your life." Sometimes the bereaved are resistant to getting on with because they feel this means "forgetting" their loved one. In addition, moving on is easier said than done. Grief has a mind of its own and works at its own pace.

Statements that begin with "You should" or "You will." These statements are too directive. Instead you could begin your comments with: "Have you thought about. . ." or "You might. . ."

Source: American Hospice Foundation

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Hi Melina,

I have thought about this oversensitivity thing since you posted. I do believe we are all overly sensitive when we are grieving and that it is perfectly fine to be that way...especially those of us who are pretty sensitive to begin with....I personally cherish sensitivity and miss that a lot in Bill.

People have said some dumb and insensitive things to me in the past 19 months and even before when he was struggling. Initially I wanted to strike back or punch them but I THINK I have learned that they are either fearful, inexperienced with grief, insensitive and the like. It is most difficult when it comes from my own family which, sadly, it has and which has caused me NOT to share my pain with them. So I am learning to handle it by staying away from people who do this and even when I am at my strongest (which is not often and not very strong) wish them well...silently (May so and so be safe, be healthy, be happy, live with ease). The vast majority of people do not wish to harm us....so I choose not to speak up to them unless I KNOW I can do it gently, kindly, wisely....and that is not often a choice I make as I have little energy to do so most of the time and other times I know they can't hear me.

If I worked day in and day out with insensitive people (or fearful or whatever)like you are, I would be quite careful about how I deal with the situation so it does not make it worse. I do believe in calling a spade a spade, pointing out the elephant in the room-it has gotten me in trouble a lot- but I also believe in compassion towards myself and sometimes that means NOT speaking up. It is a judgment call.

I am into protecting myself right now as no one else can do that now....and it might be selfish but right now I am doing it anyway. :)

Peace

Mary mfh

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Dear Melina,

Last evening I was invited up to Pauline's brothers house, to watch the Patriots, football game outside projected onto a big screen on the back of the garage. I had a great time seeing nieces, and others I knew, that I hadn't, seen for a long time. Around half time, I was in the house, and a woman named Liz, that has known Pauline and I for 30 years, started talking about her father's death 2 years ago. I thought that was very insensitive of her to do that in front of me. Too soon and too much, so I just walked away and went and sat by one of the fire pits they had burning. No one else was there. The tears flowed, I did not hide my emotions, it took a good 15 minutes for me to get back into the frame of mind I was in before. But all in all I had a great time, and no one talked about death again. On a happy note it was so good to sit and laugh again. It is the best thing for the soul.

God Bless

Dwayne

Put a smile on your face when you see this. :)

post-14895-13206846688_thumb.jpg

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I am sorry for your loss. I don't know, if it is over sensitivity, or otherwise. I think, it is much easier for people to act without thinking than to actually put some thought, behind thier words, in all facets, not just in regards to personal loss. Perhaps, it is a symptom of our "reality tv" obsessed culture, that the more egregious or gawdy the comment, the more importance it is given? I am not sure, I do know, that I share the same sentiment as you. I recently loss my father, and I can attest that some people are just too self absorbed to think about about how words can impact another. In many cases, I think these people are in pain themselves and seek out to make themselves feel better at any given opportunity. I think, the one fact, that keeps me sane, is that, that the people who care, family or friends, know what to say.

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Dwayne, was that you and Pauline's monkey?

pmlpup, I'm sure you're right. This is an age in which communication skills have greatly gone downhill. People say/text/email without forethought and as a result, we have really lost something in our society.

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