Edie,

I might gently suggest that you are speaking for yourself only here, and not for eight billion people, more or less.

While yes, in some cases, people need to be left alone. In others, and depending on where we are in our grief, we may desperately need company and platitudes as well, because that’s the stage we’re in, or perhaps more accurately, that’s our personality type.

It is an unfortunate habit of writers to speak for everyone when in truth we can only speak for ourselves. Your truth is sacred for you. Yet, for the rest of humanity, how they process grief may be totally different. I’ve been around people who’ve lost loved ones for whom the offering of condolences is not only precisely what they need but also an essential part of knowing they aren’t alone. So, with respect, what you say here, for them, is patently untrue. As it is also completely untrue for me.

To wit, when one of my closest friends lost her mother, she gained strength from those of us who gathered around her, openly expressed our love and care and condolences. She would have collapsed in private grief. Those clichés that you are so uncomfortable with were part of what kept her upright during the services. That doesn’t make you wrong per se. It only says that there are effectively eight billion different ways to handle grief, albeit there are some shared tendencies among archetypes.

So while I fully understand and honor your point, I might offer that each of us finds a way to deal. None of us has the right to dictate for anyone else what works, for we cannot possibly know. It’s a human habit to project onto others what we feel is right or true for ourselves, which is effectively what this sentence does. However, neither you nor I nor anyone else knows what will or won’t work for anyone else, not even those closest to us. That is in fact no available to us. Never was and never will be.

Based on this article, you apparently are uncomfortable with clichés. That is perfectly fine and an important part of where you are in life. However, others are not at all. That’s why they exist. For some, they work just fine. That is why we have personality archetype work, that’s why we acknowledge and understand diversity, that’s why in the highest sense we do not dictate for all humanity what, in fact, only applies to ourselves.

This isn’t a put down or chastisement in the slightest bit. It is offered as an observation. We’re in tough times and I see lots of articles that are expressive of both anxiety and frustration because of what we’re being asked to deal with. That’s understandable, but I might ask that before we pretend to speak for everyone else, which we cannot, we might consider that in truth, the only truth you and I can address is our own. That is quite enough to bear.

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