If you have ever suffered the loss of a beloved person or pet, lost a job you depended on, or lived through a life-changing incident, you know how hurtful it is to hear someone say dismissively, “oh, get over it, already!” Many may also be haunted by trauma experienced years ago, and still may be having trouble dealing with it. There is no time limit on grief or pain; it is very personal to each of us.
I once read about a tribe of people who grieve in this way: when they have lost a loved one, they garland themselves in the large and fragrant leaves of a tree that only grows in their land. As long as the leaves are worn, it is understood that those wearing them are mourning. When the leaves began to wither and fall away, it means that the time for grief has passed. Simple, right? However, we have no such device in this country, and we all have our own ways to cope–or not.
I won’t waste time here talking about *therapy or meditation; obviously we have to do what we can to help ourselves. My point is that no one but us can decide time limits on our feelings. I try hard to live by this rule: if no one asks me directly for my opinion, I don’t give it. I might think that this, that or the other thing may be perfect to help the other person–but that’s an assumption on my part. I’m not in that person’s skin, nor can I see inside their heart. I might think that what is bothering another person is silly or trivial; but to that person, it’s dead serious. I don’t have the right or authority to judge anyone’s feelings but my own.
It wasn’t until my own heart was laid wide open and I was utterly helpless in grief so deep and dark that I really got it. It was an ‘aha’ moment that changed me forever. I was forced to take the time necessary to heal. Since that time, my outlook has changed completely, and I know that you can’t always just ‘get over it.’
The “get over it, already!” folks may mean well, but it is a slap in the face to someone who is suffering. Their attitude and words assume that there is something deeply wrong with you, and that you are both weak and stupid if you can’t handle it. It also assumes they are somehow better than you because such things don’t bother them. However, it is far more likely that those people either haven’t suffered or have not delved into the depths of their own pain. I also believe that these folks may be so uncomfortable around grief or pain that they really don’t know what else to do; they keep on believing that you can move on. This alone keeps me from getting too upset with them–they don’t get it and they are doing the only thing that they know how to do. Best to forgive them and go forward.
Trust me on this: you can bury your hurts and fears for a long, long time, but sooner or later they will emerge and won’t go away until you deal with them directly. I covered up my pain for decades; when I finally faced it, it was far easier than I thought to work through it.
Look, I come from generations of strong and determined people, and they believed in hard work, helping themselves and not relying on others. Most would rather have died than ask for help. My genealogy includes hard-headed and tough women who took their destiny in hand and scraped out their lives as best they knew how, mostly on their own. So naturally I felt terrible when something came up in my life I couldn’t seem to handle. But comparing ourselves to others is a slippery slope, and will only make you feel worse. Just concentrate on you and give yourself credit for taking baby steps.
We can’t blame ourselves for our pain; that’s really pouring salt in the wound. From my experience, it’s better to turn away from the people who assume that they can live your life better than you can. Let that ignorance roll off your back, and please don’t let it add to the pain you already feel. Let the “get over it, already” folks go on their way, and try your best not to let them get under your skin. They really don’t know any better way to bridge the gap between their ignorance and/or fear and your suffering. Let them go, and go do what you need to do for you.
*Do get the help you need when you need it, whether it’s therapy or medication. There are some things you need help with to get over, and there is wisdom in knowing who to ask for help and when.