Nobody likes a bully. Well, at least that is what I’ve always been told. And believe me, when bullying is used as a weapon to harm those who are grieving, it takes on a whole new level.

Some of you may be wondering what on earth I could be talking about because the idea of using words, actions or power to hurt individuals who are already feeling the worst pain in their lives seems unfathomable.

I wish I could say that it doesn’t happen or that maybe I have misunderstood some actions, but unfortunately, I have to tell the truth and the truth is that sometimes we simply find ourselves faced with the cruelness that exists in our world.

Did you know that bullying is not just a schoolyard phenomenon? That adults can be just as mean and hateful, especially those who sense vulnerability and an opportunity to wield power over someone else? The sad thing is that when people are in the throes of their bereavement, they are often more susceptible to doing things they are not ready for, or they are ridiculed for the way they are grieving.

I’ve heard and witnessed too many things that would make your heart burst with anger or shake your head in disbelief, and I think it is time to start acknowledging that bullying is a part of many grief journeys.

“Kids are just playing” parents and teachers will tell me. “They don’t really mean it.” The problem with that mentality is that once the words have been uttered or actions have been completed, the damage has already been done, and it is really difficult to regain trust afterwards.

Why is trust important? Think about it. You are at your lowest point in your life, feeling raw and flayed open to every feeling coming your way. You want to share and unburden yourself from the weight of the grief within you, and yet you are timid about who you can be honest and up front with about where you are at in your grief journey.

But then, you take a chance and share some of your innermost emotions, hopeful that you will find comfort and solace, only to then have that vulnerability thrown up in your face at a later time.

To emphasize how wrong this is would be an understatement and it is high time that we take action against those who would use bullying to either destroy or provoke emotions. What can we do?

As always, it is important to be vigilant and to stand up for those who are having a difficult time doing it for themselves. We need to make a stand and emphatically state that bullying is wrong in any shape, form or fashion, and we need to recognize that individuals are now using it in very dangerous ways.

Want to know what is more common than sadness expressed by the bereaved? Anger. And when push comes to shove, if someone attacks you by using the one thing that seems reprehensible, sometimes it will cause explosive rage and unwanted behaviors.

Please, be mindful of those who are grieving and use your voice to address language or actions that are used to cause harm. Healing is hard enough on its own, so we don’t need to add preventable attacks into the mix.

Just say “no” to bullying, it is the right thing to do.

Jenny Filush-Glaze is the bereavement coordinator at Hospice Compassus EAMC and is a licensed counselor. You can contact her at Jennifer.filush@compassus.com.

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