Having community around you can be great in your time of grief. It can also become burdensome. Today we are going to talk about what to do when your community makes you uncomfortable. We will be referencing our article Boundaries in Grief: Struggles and Solutions for how to make and set boundaries that can help in dealing with the uncomfortable community you may experience.
Helpful vs not helpful and uncomfortable...what this might look like
Some of those around you may be extremely helpful and others may just be in your way. Worse, their actions may be detrimental to your journey. Some may flock to you for their own weird drama seeking intentional “help”. It’s not uncommon to feel awkward or uncomfortable about the community help and support you find. Remember, everyone is grieving and we all grieve differently. Most people mean well and have good intentions. However, it is ok and healthy to say no or no thanks to their help when it is not serving you well.
What if I don’t want them around me?
During this time, we have a lot of conflicting emotions. There will be times when we want everyone around us and other times, we will want to be alone. Sometimes, we will want both and not know which way to go. We can feel very alone even when we are in a crowd. Grief, as you know, creates a lot of mixed emotions that don’t always make sense.
There are times when we will push away those who love us. This is normal when we are going through so many emotions. Just remember, just as we are doing the best we can...they may be doing the same. Try to give both of you grace as you traverse this difficult time. Be mindful of too much alone time and be sure to connect with someone daily.
What if they are smothering you?
Some folks will swoop in and take care of you and everything around you. At first they may be a lifeline and exactly the support you need. After a while, it may begin to feel smothering. You will want to do something for yourself but they are there taking care of it for you. It is ok to say thank you, but no thank you.
In this case, ask them nicely to not come over or do X. You can also say, I can use help doing ___ and that’s all. Please don’t ___. Alternatively, you could respond that it feels like too much help and you’d like to start doing these things for yourself as part of your grieving process. A simple thanks but no thanks.
What if you feel worse after they visit?
There are times when people will show up with great intentions to visit and be with you during your grief. As they pour out their grief, they can make you feel worse. You may end up feeling as though you have to take care of them. They stay too long, drone on and on. or bring things that are not helpful to you or your family. Like romantic movies, R rated movies for the kids, gallons of alcohol or other things that you didn’t ask for and certainly don’t need.
Unfortunately, you may not know until after the visit. If that’s the case, then you can politely decline their subsequent advances or invitations.
If you already know you don’t want their visit. You can put them off and say now is not a good time or no thank you.
What if they are making me uncomfortable with their type of help?
See our boundaries article for ideas on how set and hold your boundaries.
Here is a simple reminder:
Even in the healthiest and greatest of times, maintaining boundaries is important. If someone is overstepping and creating chaos or making you uncomfortable, it is important to let them know. Just because you are grieving does not make it ok for someone to try to run over you. Take a moment to think about what type of help you do want or need. Then ask for it.
You have the right to say no, not now, thank you but, I am not ready for ____. The number one thing is to take good care of you. If they are toxic or not helpful, you can say no and not answer the door, phone or email. You don’t need to go entirely off...just make sure they know where you stand.
We know that this may be difficult right now as many might be treating you with kid gloves or acting as though you are not capable. While your world has been turned upside down and twisted all over the place, you still have the right to feel comfortable with others in the discomfort of your present life.
What if they are grieving differently than I am and I cannot cope with their issues?
One thing to consider is that those around us are often grieving as well. They may not know how to approach you and are trying their best to handle in the way they know how. They will say stuff that you feel is inappropriate. This is all normal. Reach for grace - for yourself and others.
In this case you do not have to make them feel better or take on their grief. You can politely let them know their grieving is making you uncomfortable or is too much for you at this time. A simple, “Wow you’re really grieving too and in a different way. I understand how much he meant to you, but I need time to process this as well.“
How to say please leave me alone..Now isn’t a good time
Ask people to call, text before they come over. If it’s not a good time, you can gently say, no it’s not a good time, call/text me later...let’s try again in a couple of weeks, etc.
This is your time of grieving and you get to set the pace and how you want to engage or not engage.
Something to do ...Make a list
We have said this before in our blogs, make a list. Keeping a list of what you need and don’t need can help you in your conversations with those who are unsure of how to help. It can also assist you in establishing boundaries with those who want to overstep in their assistance.
Many times, those around us act like our brains fell out and we have lost our mental capacity to function. We did not lose our brain...we lost our love. Life has to be rebuilt again without them and that will take time.
Take some time to consider what you need and don’t need and communicate that - via conversation, email or even text. This is your journey and it is our hope that these words will help you.
Peace and Blessings,
Teresa & Jeni