I noticed from the very beginning that when I display ‘positive’, ‘happy’, ‘ normal’ behaviour, I get rewarded by some people with treats – with compliments and words of encouragement designed to try and somehow show me that this devastation is an illusion. But when I display my grief and pain openly, those same people will ignore me, or make suggestions as to what I could do to ‘get better’. I am not a dog, waiting for treats, and doing your bidding to get those treats. And there is no ‘getting better’ from loss like this. Far from ‘helping’, this reward system just pushes the profoundly bereaved further away, because we figure out pretty quickly who will be there for us, who can sit and witness our pain without asking us to mask it, or diminish it.

If you do start trying to give me ‘treats’, I will step away, because there are enough secondary losses to grieve for without having to negotiate behaviour which is essentially trying to control how I feel. I am entitled to my pain. I am entitled to grieve and mourn for Rich. The devastation is real.

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