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When Being Grateful Isn’t


I enjoyed hearing from so many of you after the blog about being grateful during 2020. I also realized, there are times when gratitude can be used in a sad, wrong way. It can be used against us:

*When someone you love dies and a friend says, “Yes, but you should be grateful for ----” and a list follows.

*When someone does something for you and lets you know you should be grateful, you owe them a strong dose of gratitude,

*When someone starts a sentence with the words, “should, could or would.”

Should is one of the most dangerous words in our language. It ranks with me, right up there an with obscenity.

Darcie Sims, one of the greatest presenters on the bereavement circuit back when I was doing workshops on grief, said it well:

“Don’t should on yourself.”

Here are statements for which you might want to hand the person who delivers them a fresh roll of toilet paper, or throw it so it drapes all over them:

You should be grateful for all the good memories.

Of course, you’re grateful! Geez.

You would feel better if you talked to someone.

True. You don’t need to be told and you may not want to talk right now.

You could get over it quicker if you went out more often.

If someone you love has died, if you’ve lost your house in the flood of fire, if the divorce papers were in the morning mail, if a grandchild is seriously ill – you’ll never quite “get over it.”

So, after my husband, Marv, died. I got so tired of hearing, “I’m sorry for your loss,” (Great – they didn’t have to remember his name,) and all the should, would, coulds that I actually put a small roll of toilet paper in my big purse and went out to lunch with some friends.

I was fully armed.

The first friend who said one of those fateful words was getting T-P’ed.

We gathered for lunch at Marks, my favorite restaurant. We talked and we talked some about our current joys and sorrow. Then Mark showed up. I love Mark and he’s not above getting a roll of toilet paper.

We talked for awhile, then he said it.

“Know what you should do since all of you are feeling a little down?”

My hand slid into my purse.

My grip tightened over the toilet paper.

“You should all have some of our new Crème de la Cocoa dessert. It’s on the house.”

OK. Sometimes those should, woulds, coulds are not so bad after all.

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