Grieving Isn’t WallowingMARCH 27, 2016I’m chatting with a young woman who’s father has molested her. She’s understandably uncomfortable talking about it. Openly grieving her loss feels like it’s out of the question, because the memories terrify her. But when I ask what her greatest fear is, her answer is telling: “I just don’t want to look like I’m wallowing.”My response: “Why do you feel like you’re wallowing?”“Because people will think I’m weak. Like I’m playing a victim.”Ah, the victim card. We hear this one so often. The assumption that people who don’t immediately “overcome” their loss prior to some ridiculous, externally-imposed and arbitrary expiration date are whiny losers is extraordinarily prevalent in our culture, particularly in the US. Given our cultural predilections towards individualism and “fixing” everything, it’s no wonder that grieving people are terrified of being labeled as wallowers. In all the conversations I have with grieving people, the most common experience they communicate is that they feel alone. Parallel to that, most feel tremendous shame for having to grieve at all, and a significant amount feel as if their grief is driving them crazy. What usually binds many of these feelings together is a deeply rooted sense of unworthiness that is grounded in the haunting feeling that they’ll be “found out” as wallowers. The image of the wallower is deeply embedded in our culture.