Since my son’s death, I’ve encountered both support, and judgement. One comment in particular has always stuck out to me: That I’m a terrible person, and everything I do is for publicity. I think it angers me still, because I’ve worked so hard to have the strength to share my grief with others, to allow myself to be vulnerable, because it may help someone else.
I share the worst and best parts of my life so that others who are struggling don’t feel so alone. So they know it’s okay to talk about their losses, their mental health, their healing, and their triumphs along that journey. The bereaved spend so much time being shushed and made to feel like we cannot share because it’s too sad, too uncomfortable, too inappropriate. We are quieted by people like that woman, who say we share for publicity.
I also share so that those who are not grieving, who are not bereaved, can have a better understanding of what our daily life is like after loss. In doing so, I have always had this hope that there would be more acceptance of talk of grief, more respect of loss, more grace with those hurting, and more support for those in the depths of it.
I am a person who is an open book. I do not hide. I don’t sugar coat. I’m no bullshit. I say what I think, I share how I feel, I step up when others don’t. On so many levels, my openness and vulnerability has done what I’ve hoped it would. My personality has allowed me to be a voice in so many aspects of my life. But these aspects of who I am have also set me up for harsh criticism from people like those women the other day. I don’t expect everyone to like me. I’m not doing it right if everyone does. There is always going to be opposition to strong personalities. There will always be people who are too uncomfortable in their own struggles to allow someone else to share theirs.
Deflection is usually pretty obvious. You can say what you want about me, about my choices, about my voice. But the mirror you’re looking into is still only going to show your reflection. Do some introspective work, find out why it bothers you so much that I’m so comfortable in being exactly who I am. Ask yourself why it’s really so uncomfortable for you that I share my struggles.
And then, do better.