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Pet Caregiver Support Blog…

Negativity and the Grief Journey

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by Stephanie Belak LSW, MSW

You’ve probably noticed that our society — including people and places — are pretty negative.

This is because our brains hold on to negative memories or images more strongly than the positive ones. It’s almost like we’re hard-wired to be attracted to negativity —which is NO good!

Yet negativity is all around us. From our coworkers, family members, and friends to social media networks, our culture is submerged in a negative-based mindset.

Negativity Affects the Grief Journey

When you’re grieving or in the anticipatory grief stage, it is imperative to avoid any or all negativity. Otherwise, it could hinder your grief journey.

When scrolling through social media, try to steer away from negative thoughts or images. If something negative pops up on your social media field, quickly scroll past it. It may be a good idea to remove friends and followers who post negative images or comments or at least block them. (They won’t know this unless they specifically look.)

Try and be more attentive to positive posts with uplifting quotes or happy images. You’d be surprised to see how much positivity there is on social media. This can provide a bit of comfort during difficult times.

When you’re at work or out in public, try and stay away from negative minded individuals.  A negative person can be toxic to an environment, which in turn can affect your grieving process.

Strategies to Support a Healthy Grief Process

Solutions to avoid negativity in a working or public environment include outright avoidance and/or communication.

Of course, avoiding negativity is ideal, but this is not a feasible option most of the time. You can communicate with a loudly negative individual and state something like “I am having a hard time with my personal life right now, can we please try and stay positive?” or “I do not want to be around this negativity, please keep it to yourself and let’s focus on the good.”

Some individuals may not be receptive to these requests.  Avoiding or ignoring the individual may be your only solution. And if you do not feel comfortable or up to communicating these requests, these are your only options!

In your personal life, negativity might be common among friends and family members. This does no good for your grieving process.

Handling People Who Deny Your Right to Grieve a Pet

The most difficult negativity is when your friends or family deny your grief and try to explain that “It (was/is) just a pet.” These words can be very hurtful when they come from an individual that you care about. It hurts when people do not understand your pain.

So it is important to protect yourself from these negativities, even if it means isolating yourself from these toxic individuals or communicating your feelings with them. You cannot move through a difficult situation with a negative mindset.

In an attempt to stay away from negativities while grieving, finding the good and positive aspects of social systems and people will help you through this difficult journey. Feeling and finding the positive will create a calming effect on your tired, upset, and sometimes traumatized mind and body. It will protect you from getting hurt and provide comfort.

Stephanie Belak is part of Day by Day’s Counseling Team.



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