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Attacked For Optional Beliefs


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Well, this makes TWO times in the last month that I've been attacked on 2 different boards ( this last time, not on this one )for daring to talk about different beliefs about death and concepts related to death and grief. I wish I could say that I let it pass like water off a duck's back, but I can't. Every time this has happened to me, I feel so belittled and unworthy to share my own feelings and beliefs about things. My feelings are walked over, with the attackers seeming to think they're the only ones grieving, and so my feelings are miminized, pushed into the background, while their feelings are put forth as all and only-important. I'm so ANGRY about this!! Is this a normal behaviour after a loss - to attack others for talking about different ideas?! It reminds me of how life was in my own, stupid, completely-intolerant family, where I was also made to feel like an outsider, an alien...a feeling I've carried with me all the days of my life. I feel like I don't belong anywhere on this planet. While society applauds 'new' thinkers, and that is indeed, how we've advanced in some ways throughout history, it seems like I'm a black sheep if I even mention another thinker's ideas! Are we all just supposed to be lemmings, then, following blindly in the footsteps of others who got pushed off the cliff because they couldn't think for themselves?! It's hard enough to go through this grief, work and rework beliefs to try our best to find some comfort for ourselves so that we can continue to be of some use to society, without getting verbally blasted for trying!

This last attack ocurred over the phrase "It was their time to go", when someone asked for other's thoughts on the whole concept. I simply put forth what theories I've read and heard about regarding this idea - never even said that those were necessarily my beliefs....and the next thing I knew, someone else was attacking me, as if I'd told them that this was the only way to look at this. They ignored other's responses that not only supported the general idea I'd written about, but also their agreement with the general concept. It was ME, alone, who got attacked! I even wrote back, staying calm in my response, trying to give this person the benefit of the doubt ( since they hadn't seemed to have understood my first posting at all )...and got blasted even WORSE the second time! While I'd ( surprisingly ) found some comfort from this phrase, they sarcastically responded as if I'd told them THEY had to as well, which I by no means hadn't.

What's WITH some of the people on these boards?!?! I repeat, is this kind of attack to be expected on every board out there? There are guidelines to writing on every, single grief board I've even seen, yet there are those who unilaterally decide that those suggestions don't apply to them. The result? Now I don't feel boards are very safe places to talk about certain things that are important to some of us, things some of us NEED to talk about relating to our grief. I'm not naive enough to think that the abusive, intolerant types of people like my family-of-origin aren't also out there in the world, but to keep finding them on grief boards, where our natural compassion usually brings out the best in us, despite our individual flaws, is so disheartening! Where else are we supposed to go to talk about this stuff? As most guidelines state: we can disagree, but no personal attacks allowed, keep it sensible in your disagreement, don't tell others that their spiritual beliefs are flat-out wrong, etc. And what's the point of apologizing, even for something you didn't do wrong, when you just get attacked again?! In fact, as I vent here about something that really upset me, I'm already feeling as if I don't have a right to be upset....that's what attacks do to me and it's just more intense when I'm already feeling vulnerable from my losses. This person was also implying that her loss was worse than mine ( when I hadn't even mentioned what my losses specifically were anyway ) and that I should "walk a day in (her) shoes!"

I'm thinking that possibly a lot of fine people simply LEAVE grief boards when things like this happen ( as I'm now considering doing ), and we never hear about it because they're so upset they don't tell anyone and just GO, never to return. I know I've heard directly from others when they leave, all upset for even lesser reasons. I realize, too, that when grieving, we're extra-sensitive to all sorts of things ( been there, done that, still do ), but that's WHY there are guidelines. They're sort of like a mini-counseling course in how to communicate better with people.

I'm thankful that this particular board IS monitored and not just blindly left to survive on its own. But I'm now so sensitized to this kind of reaction that I wouldn't be terribly surprised to get attacked for THIS venting, because this is another one of those unspoken topics that's out there, but no one wants to air, just because it's so 'tricky' to handle. But please, if you disagree with me on some point, do so as politely or rationally as you can, and use words like "I feel", "I disagree because...", and the like, rather than words that imply a "how DARE you?!" approach. My thicker skin is stretched a little thinner these days.....Am I the only one this has happened to?..cuz it sure looks that way.

Edited by Maylissa
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My dear Maylissa,

I’m so very sorry that you had the experiences you’ve described, and I hope that will never happen to you here – but I’d like to address some of your concerns.

I’m reminded of an experience I had with my physician father several years ago. He had been caring diligently for an older man who was dying, and despite everything my father tried, he could not reverse the course of this man's illness, and eventually his patient died. The man’s wife was furious with my father, and he confided in me how taken aback he was by this woman’s white-hot anger. My father (who was a wonderful, caring, conscientious and highly respected physician) assured me that he had done everything in his power to care for this man, but in the end, he was powerless to save him. He was mystified by the wife's reaction to her husband's death, and he felt terribly misjudged and abused by the anger and rage this woman directed at him. I listened to his story and then gently suggested to my father that perhaps this was not what this woman was really angry about. Perhaps, I said, what she was really angry about is the fact that her husband died. I will never forget the look on my father’s face. He was astounded, and he began immediately to re-frame how he was perceiving this woman’s behavior toward him. The next time he saw her, he was able to empathize with her anger rather than taking it personally – and they both managed to talk about it, recognize it for what it was, work through it and get past it.

I share this story with you, Maylissa, simply to illustrate how the anger that accompanies loss can be so hurtful, and how important it is to recognize that anger is one of the most common reactions in grief. When we’re frustrated and hurting it’s only natural to lash out and look for someone to blame. Being angry is a way of channeling energy, of making some sense of the pain. When we are protesting an unjust loss, we may have every right to be angry. Even if we know our anger isn’t logical or justified, we cannot always help how we feel. For some of us, being angry may be preferable to feeling the underlying hurt and pain of loss.

When you encounter grieving people in a support group – whether in person or in a virtual support group such as this one – you run the risk of exposing yourself to the raw emotions of other grieving people. Clearly in the situation you describe, you felt attacked for stating your beliefs, and you chose to deal with it by confronting the person constructively with what happened and how you feel about it. But if the person is unwilling to listen or unable to accept your point of view, there is another alternative: you can realign your expectations, accept the other person’s limitations and seek the support you need somewhere else.

When you decide to participate in any online grief forum or message board, I suggest you consider the following:

1) Investigate before you participate. Notice whether the service is sponsored by a reputable organization (such as this one, which is sponsored by Hospice of the Valley), and learn whether the moderators are qualified to offer information and support (such as the ones you’ll find here, both of whom are nationally certified hospice bereavement counselors). Read about the moderators to learn about their background, education and training. Make sure they have experience in facilitating support groups and knowledge about the normal grief process. Read some posts written by the moderators to get a sense of their approach to grieving people. Make certain that the group or forum you select is made up of grievers with whom you can identify. Read some of the posts in a given forum to decide if you can relate to the people gathered there.

2) Look for a statement of the group’s purpose and its “ground rules.” (You can read ours by clicking on the link labeled "Discussion Group Guidelines," located at the top of the main page on this board, or you can go directly to the Discussion Groups page of my Grief Healing Web site, at http://www.griefhealing.com/discussiongroup.htm )

3) Look for an option that enables you to report to the moderator(s) any post that you find objectionable. (Note that a !REPORT button appears at the foot of every post in these forums, whereby you can alert our moderators to the link to such a post and the topic title.)

4) Use your own good judgment and common sense. If something doesn’t feel right, if you don’t feel safe, accepted or understood, trust your instincts, leave immediately, and find another group.

Whether it is offered “in person” or online, a bereavement support group is intended to form a healing circle that helps members bear up under the heavy burden of loss without giving way. It may be one of the few places where you can come to be among others who understand, and where you can still talk about the one you have loved and lost. (It’s important to note that group support is not the same as group therapy. Support groups aren’t meant to cure long-standing emotional problems, alter people’s personalities or change their basic values or beliefs. Neither are they just social gatherings designed to introduce people of similar interests, although friendships may develop outside the group as members may choose to correspond with and get to know one another.)

The group provides a safe, structured place where normal, healthy people bound by the experience of loss can come together on a regular basis to share their stories, get their concerns and feelings validated, learn more about the grieving process, express and work through their feelings, and reflect with one another on the meaning of it all. Members have the opportunity to grow by giving help as well as receiving it.

Whether offered “in person” or online, most support groups are facilitated or moderated by people who’ve lost loved ones themselves, worked through their own grief and are committed to helping others get through the experience. What goes on in a support group meeting, or in an online forum such as this one, will vary with its leaders, its membership and what is shared. Although some groups have the added assistance of a professional bereavement counselor, who can offer expertise and educational information on grieving that may not be available otherwise, the facilitator / moderator’s role is the same: to provide structure and to make certain that everyone in the group feels safe.

You have the right to expect that structure and safety no matter what group you select – whether "in person" or on the Internet – and if you don’t experience it, you owe it to yourself to find another group.

I hope this information is helpful, Maylissa, and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to provide it to all of our members and visitors.

Most sincerely,

Marty T

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Dear Marty,

Thank you very much for yet another thougthful and helpful response to my problem. The care and concern you show for all members here is a wonderful thing to behold. I'm also glad you thought to include the whereabouts of the guidelines for this site.

The example you provided makes a good point quite nicely, and while I tried to apply that reasoned approach to this latest incident, I'm left with a bitter taste in my mouth now, mainly because neither the administrator or moderator of this other board has seen fit to respond to my concern. I did alert them both to the post in question, although it's not quite as easily accomplished as on this site, despite the fact that there is supposed to be an easy means to do so. Perhaps you had forgotten, but I did have a similar problem on this board too, not too long ago, but the telling difference was your quick intervention and follow-up to rectify it, for which I'm now even more grateful, as I haven't had the same problem here since.

I'm actually rather surprised that I'm having this problem on this other site, as the site comes highly recommended and their guidelines for posting are very clearly stated and quite extensive. While the moderators don't seem to have the necessary training, the founder certainly does. I have discovered that they aren't following their own, stated rules, as the moderators are the ones who are supposed to take care of matters such as this, yet I was referred to the administrator instead. I also don't know what the criteria for their moderators are, as this isn't stated. I will certainly have to rethink whether this other site is a suitable place or not. Unfortunately, there don't seem to be many at all that would meet all the criteria you suggested, at least that I've found. So thank you for all the good information, and the wonderful support! :) ( and I see the smilies are working now! )

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