Last year, one of my friends who I had briefly dated died in a car accident. Dealing with his death was one of the most awful things I have ever had to do, and I was devastated. I felt so sad that I didn’t even bother trying to hide it from anyone.
Because I made my feelings obvious enough that even a stranger walking by me could tell something was wrong (I’m a public crier and I’m not ashamed), I got lots of advice I never asked for and didn’t want. I heard these phrases more times than I can count:
“This is life. Everyone dies. You just have to deal with it”
“Be thankful for what you do have. Others have it a lot worse.”
And my all-time favorite:
“Everything happens for a reason!”
UGH. Okay, first of all, telling me that “everyone dies” is never, ever going to make me feel better. Yes, that is a fact of life, and yes, everyone needs to learn to deal with it. But reminding me of everyone else I care about’s impending deaths right after someone has passed away? No.
Second of all, this probably isn’t the best time to remind me that other people have it worse. Yes, I know they do. But when someone says that, it kind of makes you feel like you don’t have a right to be sad. And even if you have the best life ever, you still have the right to be sad when something bad happens to you.
And lastly, maybe one of the worst phrases ever to hear when you’re miserable is, “Everything happens for a reason”. When I’m feeling happy and smiley, I do like to believe that that statement is true. But when I’m feeling miserable, I don’t want to hear that. It’s enough to make me want to scream.
Listen, let’s be real here: sometimes, a girl just wants to be sad. When something totally sucky happens, you don’t want to immediately try to be positive and happy. You want to wallow in your own misery for a little bit, but some people just make that so freakin’ hard.
I know, I know. They’re just trying to help! These people are probably desperately trying to make you feel better, but they don’t really know what to say, so they resort to horribly cliched positive statements that they think will help. But here’s the truth: they don’t help! When I’m heartbroken over something and in total feeling-sorry-for-myself mode, hearing those things actually only makes me want to strangle you.
And these happy statements don’t only apply to death. They also apply to things like breakups. One of my least favorite things to hear when I’ve just been dumped is, “There are so many other better guys out there! You’ll meet someone soon!” Um, no. Maybe I don’t want to meet someone else (in the moment). Maybe I just want to be sad over my ex.
I mean, what is really so bad about spending a few days crying yourself to sleep, eating embarrassing amounts of Ben & Jerry’s, watching sad movies and feeling sorry for yourself? I think that’s actually a pretty important part of the healing process.
Maybe after those initial few days, I’ll want to hear those positive reinforcements. But immediately after something sad happens, I don’t want to. I just want to be sad. I just want to mope around and have people be honest and say, “Yes. This stinks. This is horrible and it’s totally okay to be sad.” I don’t want others making it seem like I have no reason to cry.
So next time someone close to you is dealing with something terrible, try a different approach. Give them a hug and tell them it’s okay to cry. Sometimes positivity just isn’t needed.
What’s the most annoying thing you’ve ever heard when you were feeling sad? What really gets on your nerves? Tell us in the comments.