Grief Rant = Platitudes Piss Me Off

One of the painful parts of grieving is when the people who you thought could be there for you let you down.  One of the ways they do this is by lobbing a disgusting platitude at you.  Platitudes are grief equivalents of getting a pie in the face.  “Oh, you’re grieving?  You’re in the worst pain in your life?  Well, how about you look on the bright side, I have pie!  Not happy yet?  Well, let me smash it in your face and that should do the trick.”

Platitudes are the fuck you’s of condolences.  They are code for “I am so sorry your life has been destroyed, but don’t you worry, all is well because my life is still fine.  You keep all that nasty sickness and death on your side, okay?  God, needed another angel, but He got one from your family, so surely that’s enough, right?  God doesn’t give you more than you can handle and God knows I’m swamped right now and you’re so strong, so you can take it.  See, that explains everything.  Now doesn’t that feel better?   I know I sure do.  You’re welcome!”

Platitudes only appear to be kind and helpful, but the real purpose of a platitude is to stop your grief in its tracks. The platitude giver doesn’t want to be bothered with any of your uncomfortable feelings and certainly doesn’t want to be confronted with mortality or existential truths.  For example, let’s say I’m crying at a funeral and Aunt Judy comes over and says, “Don’t forget Elizabeth, everything happens for a reason.”  That is not comforting or loving.  Besides, now what in the hell am I supposed to say to that?  I could try “Thank you for the physics lesson,” or “Yes, I know, the reason.  It was kidney failure,” but it would probably just go over her head.  Even if the quote “everything happens for a reason” was spiritually true for me, it does not mean I don’t also get to grieve what I have lost.  Plus, I don’t need you to tell it to me.  I know it in my being.  That’s like telling me, “Don’t forget Elizabeth, gravity will keep you firmly on the planet for another 24 hours.”  No shit.

The good ole Aunt Judys of the world are not saying these stupid things for your benefit, but for theirs.  What’s so sad is the platitude brigade will catch you at your most vulnerable and raw moments.  They actually think they have been helpful and that’s the most maddening part because they have actually caused MORE pain.  I know it’s hard, but next time some idiot comes at you with a vile platitude pie, dodge that motherfucker and let it fly on by.


Ginkgo Leaf

Elizabeth Kupferman is a counselor in Southlake, Texas (Dallas/Fort Worth area) dedicated to helping women overcome depression, grief, and anxiety so they can find happiness and achieve their dreams.

Creative Commons License "Grief Rant = Platitudes Piss Me Off" by Elizabeth Kupferman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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