How many times have you been told to “Get over it!”? In today’s vernacular, this common phrase means to accept something that has happened in the past and act like it never happened. It is often expressed out of frustration or sarcasm to someone who seems stuck on a past event or an emotional injury and unable to let it go. It also is used as a passive-aggressive or bullying tactic to get another person to ignore a personally painful situation so that others can have what they want, without regard or having to deal with the other person’s feelings or concerns.
When someone is hanging on to something or someone in their past, they are likely still grieving the loss. Like so many other platitudes, telling grievers to “Get over it!” does not help but rather serves to isolate and shut grievers down and to encourage them to minimize and bury their pain. What they need is not a rebuke but compassion and an acknowledgment that they may be hurting. Remember, every loss is unique as is every grief experience. Getting over it is hard work and is not always easily achieved, especially when grievers are confronted daily with societal messages that tell them to ignore their grief, be strong and put on a happy face.
Further, when someone expresses a concern or negative feeling to you about something or someone in their past, it does not always mean they are not over it or that they have not forgiven the transgression. It may mean they have not forgotten the painful lessons of that past experience and are trying to warn you to be careful. In this context, dismissing the other person with “Get over it!” may be at your own peril.
The next time you are tempted to say, “Get over it!”, pause for a moment and listen with your heart without pre-judging the situation or the person. If the person is trying to warn you, pay attention and be grateful. If the person is grieving, acknowledge their pain. Taking a few minutes to listen to their story can be incredibly beneficial, as grievers very often just want to be heard. You do not have to say anything. Just listen and offer a hug, if that seems appropriate. Helping someone in need rather than causing more pain can be an affirming and life-giving experience for you as well. Which do you think is better?
Also invite this person to consider working through The Grief Recovery Method®. This transformative program provides a safe, confidential opportunity to gain a better understanding of grief and the myths and misinformation our society perpetuates about grief and the grieving process. It also teaches specific action steps to say goodbye to the pain and heartache caused by loss. By doing so, this person will be able to move on and be happy once again. The Grief Recovery Method® is not therapy, but an educational program. It is available in an eight-week grief support group or a seven-week one-on-one format.
Please call me at 404-771-9335. As a certified grief recovery specialist, I can help!
© Ekteleo Ministry, 2016. All Rights Reserved.
James, J. W. and Friedman, R. 2009. The Grief Recovery Handbook (20th Anniversary Expanded Edition). Collings Living, New York, NY.