Don’t Tell People to Get Over It

As some of you might know, I’m currently going through a bit of a rough time. A friend, who has meant a great deal to me, for many years, is no longer in my life. It’s been a tumultuous fortnight, my emotions have been all over the place. But I’m getting there and I have a lot of hope that I’ll be okay in the end.

The grieving process

Although this close friend of mine didn’t pass away, I feel as though what I’m experiencing is quite similar to the grieving that someone goes through when they lose a loved one to death. I feel close to empty, as though I’ve lost a big part of myself. And it’s this sudden loss that has left me in disbelief as well.

Today, when I was reflecting back on my feelings, I started to think of my grandfather who passed away in 1999. I remember being a fragile and vulnerable 11 year old, who didn’t know much about Alzheimer’s disease, about life, let enough about death. I remember seeing my grandfather being fed his meals through a tube, being showered and changed by my mother, the confusion on his face when he couldn’t work out which grandchild I was.

Being misunderstood

But I also remember being told to “get over it”. To stop crying about my grandfather. To stop caring that he was sick. To “get over it” when he eventually passed away. To stop being so sad and move on.

Dont_Tell_People_To_Get_Over_ItPhoto Credit: FrameAngel / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

And it hurt me. A lot. It hurt that I was forced to push my feelings aside, because others were struggling to deal with their own. It hurt because I wanted to grieve for my grandfather. I wanted to cry because it made me sad to see someone I loved so much, be in so much pain then suddenly leave. I knew he was in a better place now, but it didn’t mean that his passing didn’t make me feel sad. I needed to grieve in my own time, on my own terms.

No problem is trivial

I once wrote about a friend of mine who would always come to me for advice. I was her confidante. She felt that I empathised with her easily, was compassionate, and that she could trust me. Above all else, she said that I never made her feel that her problems didn’t matter.

And that’s the thing, we all go through many different types of problems at different stages of our lives. They may be personal or professional – they may be related to friendships, relationships, our career, our self-esteem, even money. But what do all our problems have in common?

They matter to us.

Don’t tell someone to “get over it”

It’s true that we should be grateful for what we have and look at the bigger picture. But looking at the bigger picture does not mean we have to dismiss our feelings completely.

A relationship break-up, in theory, may not hurt as much as the death of a child, but that doesn’t mean that it’s wrong to feel saddened by both. It doesn’t mean that we don’t have a right to feel upset about both. It doesn’t mean that we should just “get over it”.

Too often people are told to “harden up”, to “stop being so sensitive”, to “get over it”. But I think what people need more than anything is a non-judgemental shoulder to cry on. Everyone wants to feel that their feelings matter; that they are being understood.

And having hit rock bottom only just seven years ago, I also know how to get others out from there. I think we can all play our part in helping to prevent suicide.

So, next time your friend tells you about their problems, be that non-judgemental shoulder for them. Listen with compassion. Respond with empathy.

You don’t need to provide the right answer, just the right response.

Please don’t tell people to “get over it”. Be there and help them get through it instead.

About The Author

Thuy Yau is a freelance writer in Perth, Australia. She writes to make a positive difference in the world, and to inspire others to lead happier lives. She juggles her life as a Youth Work student and mother of 3, with her strong passion for writing. Her work has been discussed on radio, won writing contests, appeared on The Huffington Post UK and major Australian sites such as news.com.au, SMH, Kidspot and Essential Kids.

Comments

  1. Phil says:

    Sorry to hear you lost a friendship. It’s true that most people sometimes just need a shoulder to lean on. I also think that sometimes people mean well when they say to get over it and move on with life, but they don’t know how to cope with your sadness or grieving.

    Suicide is never the answer.

    • Thuy Yau says:

      Thanks Phil, it’ll get better for me, I’m sure. And I hear what you’re saying, a gentle “it’s time to move on with life” is understandable. But I think we need to think carefully before we say “get over it” in a dismissive way. Many friends of mine have had this happen and have ended up feeling as though their problems didn’t matter – whereas I believe that their problems do. And you’re right, suicide is never the answer – we need to stand together and help each other fight through our problems. It’s just incredibly sad that many teenagers have felt that it was the only answer. I really feel for those kids.

  2. Steven Dow says:

    An apt article. Nailed it!

  3. Pat says:

    My husband of 43 years is divorcing me. It has hit me hard. I am in therapy. How do I kindly ask family members to stop saying GET OVER IT AND MOVE ON” just when I know I am healing, someone says that (I have 6 brothers and one sister) and it sets me back. I also recently parted ways with my best friend. I am at peace with this as I know what I did for her and now I know I do not want to be a VICTIM anymore and will move on. This became a toxic relationship and there was no compassion for what I was going thru (married dissolving after 43 years) I am getting stronger but know I can only control my response/reaction to what people say, any advise ???

    • Thuy Yau says:

      Hi Pat,
      I’m incredibly sorry for the pain that you’re currently going through. I know it sounds easier said than done, but I believe that you can’t change what people will say but you can change how you react to it. You know within yourself that you’re going through an experience that will take time to heal. You know that there is no time limit on moving past pain. Also, remember this, sometimes people are not emotionally equipped to help you the way that you deserve. They may want desperately to help you, but may not understand how they can. Remind yourself that you’re on your own path in life and you are going take the direction that you feel is right for you. Remember that life isn’t about living up to everyone else’s expectations – live for you. As long as you can look yourself in the mirror and be proud of the person staring back – then that’s ultimately all that really matters. All the best, Pat. Big hugs to you.

  4. WC KCAB says:

    I am a misanthrope. And statements like “Get over it” like the song from the Eagles make me hate mankind even more. People are selfish and toxic. It just proves that people only care about themselves. It makes me sick.

    • Thuy Yau says:

      Aww, I can see where you’re coming from. It can feel like that at times. It feels good when our feelings are validated, not dismissed. Sometimes what might seem like a small problem to one person, can feel like a big one to someone else. It’s important that we are there for each other – regardless of whether we truly understand what they’ve been through or whether we’ve been through a similar experience. In the end, we should be working to be there for one another. I hope your negative experiences don’t stop you from believing that there are ‘good’ people out there. All the best 🙂

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