A couple of times I have found entries on my Facebook timeline that re-post “inspirational” messages specifically about the individual’s choice of becoming bitter or getting better when faced with challenges in life. That it was ‘simple’, one could either accept what life dealt them or, if not, “allow it to tear you down.” Really? What depth of personal experiences are the life sages that come up with this stuff drawing from that they can write such broad sweeping statements?
Things simply aren’t that clear cut, to say it’s either/or – bitter or better – suggests that life events are all equal in magnitude for all people, and that things will either go one way or another. With respect to my husband’s death, I don’t believe I’ll ever get “better” from Kevin’s death, I will definitely adjust and have started that process, but I am also not “bitter” about his death. I suffered a tremendous loss when Kevin died and it will take a long time to normalize after it. I was emotionally battered, subjected to a wide range of feelings through my grief, all normal, and they will leave a lasting impression.
I think about my grief counselling group. The facilitators would be aghast if they saw a message like that – ‘you either get better or bitter’ in relation to the death of someone dear. We never talked in terms of getting better, because grief isn’t an illness – excessive grief can result in some health issues, but grief itself is an emotion with many stages that one needs to work through. Grief is different for each and every person, and each and every person will work through it at their own pace.
As for the statement that you need to accept the cards that life deals you or if not it will tear you down – I disagree. I think about the Heath Ledger movie, ‘A Knight’s Tale’, where his father tells him as a young boy to “Change your stars.” I think about my husband, he changed his stars in his mid-30’s, he wanted more and chose to have aspirations and not ‘accept’ the cards he had been dealt up to that time.
I’ve probably spent far more time on this silly little ‘inspirational’ message then it deserves. It just bothers me that the authors of these ridiculous messages get any social media attention at all. I believe that, in general, it’s not about the greater good for these folks, it usually, somehow, boils down to money or advertising.