ASK A GRIEF COACH
Question: What Do I Do With All The Advice?
Answer: Find what serves and leave the rest.
Ask a Grief Coach is an online column to address commonly received questions in private work with my clients. All names are kept anonymous, and the questions are shared with permission. As you read, keep the context of your own story in mind. No answers found here will apply directly to your circumstance because your grief is unique to you. However, the hope is that you will find tools and tips of support, whether you are the griever or the supporter.
My immediate circle of family and friends are all helpers. They’re clinicians, therapists, coaches, and more. Everyone has a unique area of expertise, and as such, everyone has an idea of what will help me.
I’m working through relationship loss and every single person is throwing advice my way. It all makes some sense, but some of it directly contradicts the other advice. Some of my people want me to focus on my happiness, others my physical health. I’m already overwhelmed and sad. But now I can’t figure out what to do with all of the advice because I know some of it is good, but it’s all too much at once.
Miss Information Overload
Dear Miss Information,
While it is a gift to have such educated people caring for you, it’s also kind of a nightmare. Everyone is an expert, and it sounds like everyone is applying their expertise to your situation without asking for your input first.
I’m assuming they have the basic knowledge of your story, but it sounds like they haven’t necessarily asked what you want or need before offering advice on how to heal.
Personally, I hate this for you. You’ve articulated the overwhelming information but you’ve also hit on the idea that much of that information is not applicable to you.
Misinformation in grief is just as harmful as ignoring our need for grieving all together. When we tell someone that we have a solution, we’re really saying, “In my experience, this is the thing that helped me the most and I assume your situation is the same as mine.”
This is where I would encourage you to feel empowered to decline the advice. I like to say, “Chew the meat and spit out the bones — find what serves you and leave the rest behind.”
It’s okay to ignore what others have said to you, especially if you’re feeling weighed down by not disappointing them in their effort to help. But in their effort to help, they’ve caused more harm.
That is all the permission you need to set the advice aside. I’ll offer one tool to help slow down the thoughts and advice likely running through your brain. Try writing each piece of advice on paper, and then? Burn it. Crumple up the notes and throw them away.
As you write, you’ll remember the advice that stands out as meaningful. As you rid yourself of the rest, you are empowering yourself to know who you are and what you need.
But guess what? If that tool doesn’t sound good for you, ignore it. Because your healing process isn’t about me or what I think will be helpful. It’s about you and your story finding a sustainable and meaningful way to integrate your loss into your sense of self, and move forward.
With the hope that you’ll quiet the noise for the still, encouraging voice inside,
Do you have questions about grief? Send Mandy your questions via Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. All submissions are anonymous, with details occasionally changed to protected against identification.
You can also submit a question here: Ask A Grief Coach!
Mandy Capehart is an author, small business owner, editor, certified grief and life coach, and creator of The Restorative Grief Project. The Restorative Grief Project is an online community focusing on one another’s stories and new methodologies for grief, creating a safe environment for our souls to heal and our spirits to be revived. To learn more, visit MandyCapehart.com or follow her on Twitter. She thinks she is pretty funny. The jury is out.