Do We Stereotype Expression Of Grief?

While I was flicking through some posts on online media platforms, I came across a news article which made me pause and ponder. It was about how the reality television star, Divya Agarwal, was being trolled mercilessly only because she posted a glamorous picture from a photoshoot on social media around a week after her father’s demise.

My instant thought when I read this was – “Online trolls are at it again!”. But as I reflected further and recounted some real-life incidents, I realised that this thought process is not just random social media trolling. Tell this to a group of people and chances are high that majority would find it weird/uncomfortable too. Some of us would even express disbelief with statements like – “What kind of a daughter is she! Posting glamorous pictures just days after her dad passed away?”

While some people troll for the sake of it, this mindset does exist at large because we tend to associate loss with grief and grief with crying or being distraught. The best example of this that I experience even today is when I share with anyone about having successfully designed a dance therapy workshop for human trafficking survivors, and pat comes the reply, “They dance?”

I know that there is no malice when people react in this manner. This is more about the stereotyping of grief that we succumb to as a society. We somehow imagine that those who have gone through a catastrophic or life-changing event would ‘appear’ to be down and distressed all the time.

Grief can never be typecast. Grief has no manual. Grief is personal simply because the loss is personal. How a person expresses and copes with grief is hence, personal. Some howl. Some gulp the pain. Some fight. Some surrender. Some leave it to time. Some take charge. Some celebrate memories. Some avoid memories. Some cry it out. Some laugh it out. Some feel empty. Some feel overwhelmed with emotions.

Experiencing grief doesn’t imply ‘looking sad’ round the clock or behaving in a certain way that’s considered ‘appropriate’. It is a natural response of the body, mind and soul. Most people struggle going back and forth, and do what they can to make a sense of their loss.

I think it is quite disrespectful to enter anyone’s personal space of grief and expect them to conform to our understanding and perception of it. No one else can decide when a person should move on. No one else can decide how a person should respond to grief.

// This post has been published by Women’s Web here. //

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