“Feelings of worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open, and rules are flexible–the kind of atmosphere that is found in a nurturing family.”-Virginia Satir
One aspect that may be missing from the grief experience is a feeling of being valued as a person who is grieving. Outsiders (society in general and grief supporters in particular) may forget that part of their job is to make grievers feel worthy. Most often any misstep or differences or miscommunication is treated as a reason to criticize and judge the griever, to prove how poorly the griever is doing their job of grieving, to prove that the griever has a “problem” and is broken.
Grievers need to feel worthy and valued and appreciated in their grieving. The experience is new and untraveled and scary and so, so difficult. The last thing we need while grieving is someone or some society picking on every flaw or poorly thought out choice or vacillation in our decisions or badly worded sentence or forgetfulness or…or…or….
A griever’s sense of value can grow and strengthen only if we are in the right company, in the best “nurturing family” for us. What we (sometimes unexpectedly) learn as we grieve is that the family (relatives and/or friends) that we have held dear may not be the “nurturing family” of which Satir speaks. We may need to find new people who nurture our new being as we transition into our life in grief.
Grieving is not synonymous with unworthiness. If the company you keep is making your grieving worse or is making you feel worse about yourself, it may be time to reassess their place in your new life of grief. Grieving is hard enough, we don’t need our support network to make it more difficult. Find new people who can support you as you meander through a space where you’re trying to figure things out–who you are now, what your life is about now, where you go now, etc.
Grief is not a temporary moment; it is a lifestyle. That lifestyle requires support from people who can help you be your best when you least feel like it. You can do more than survive grief; you can thrive. And thriving requires the right nurturing environment.