DEAR MISS MANNERS: My longtime friend is grieving the loss of her husband to COVID. I am trying to be supportive by calling, checking on her and just listening.
We all miss him, and I am sure his other relatives are grieving, as well. My friend is seeking professional counseling. In the meantime, she is getting advice from family members. Some of it is questionable, but I am doing my best to listen and not cause more strife.
However, some of this advice is shocking to me. What is a polite response to the sister-in-law who tells the widow to "put on her big-girl pants"? That she should let my friend grieve as long as she needs?
GENTLE READER: Well, yes. It is hard to fathom the sister-in-law's cruelty.
But thoughtless people often do think they can push the bereaved to banish their emotions. The bereaved are routinely berated to hurry through what are blithely described as "stages," to reach something called "closure." On anniversaries, they may be described as "still mourning," as if that is surprising.
Miss Manners' reply would be, "I hope you never have to experience such unrelenting grief." And she would say it coldly enough to make the point that the sister-in-law does not know what she is talking about.
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