About a month after my sister died, I was resuming my musical duties at church, one of which was leading the music. The church service was about to start and I was in the lobby trying to get control of my emotions before I had to go up on the platform. A friend of mine saw that I was struggling & asked me “What’s wrong?” to which I replied that I was so very sad about my sister’s death, to which he said, “Still?” I was completely dumbfounded - I’m not sure what I said that day, but I’m sure I looked at him like he had two heads. This man should have known better than to say that word, as he had experienced great grief in his own life! I went up on the platform to lead the music & just started sobbing as we were all singing. I resisted the urge to run off the stage in tears. It was horrendous.
Thus began my journey with the word “Still”.
Unfortunately this word is very common in grief. As a Grief Group Facilitator, I hear it frequently – from both grievers themselves & from those who are trying to be comforters. It is part of the grief language that many people use, that we don’t give a second thought to.
A friend might say to us: “It’s been 6 years, are you STILL grieving her death?”
A Griever might say: “It’s been 6 years, and I am STILL grieving her death”.
What’s the implication here? That after a certain amount of time we should not STILL be grieving. We should (there’s another word I’d like to erase from our vocabularies!) be “over it”, have “moved on”. It’s time to be done with our grief. When we use the word STILL we put limits on ourselves and our grief journeys. And we allow others to do that to us as well. I have learned to say to well meaning friends that “there is no STILL in grief”. I will mourn the death of my dear loved ones until the day I die.
STILL is such a negative word – I would love to see it erased from our vocabularies!
In the Walking Through Grief Groups I have led, people have come whose loved ones died 2 weeks before the class began to as long as 40 years before. There is no time limit on grief.
And there is no STILL…..
Cathy Apicello Schneithorst
Griever & Walking Through Grief Group Facilitator since 2014