I try to not write about celebrities. I try to stay on this side of things. I’ve written (positively) about Jennifer Aniston and some things about Britney Spears’ meltdown a few years ago, but I try to stay out of that fray although I was asked about and quoted extensively about Ray J and Kim K (that article probably got more play than either Ray J or Kim and that’s going some) as well as Taylor Swift using a “breakup coach” (again widely quoted but originally sourced via the New York Post) but those journalists came to me for expert commentary, I did not go to them.

If you see ANY articles about Lea Michele and how she is “still grieving” and can’t get out of bed “although some time has passed” DON’T READ IT AND CLICK ON IT. Actually don’t read ANY articles about her unless they seem to understand and don’t say stupid things like “she is STILL a mess.” They are sensationalist garbage that have no compassion or empathy for her and most have NO CLUE about the grief process.

I saw the article because I have Google Alerts and one is set for grief and that is how I saw it…I saw the title of the article and the blurb about “how some time has passed but she is still grieving” and it’s been not even 2 weeks yet…and I thought the top of my head was going to blow clean off. It truly upset me and I wrote a comment that contains some of the following. This is different than the comment (longer than the comment). My comment (I don’t know if they will publish it so I am writing [and amending] it here):

“She’s STILL the grieving loss of someone she considered the love of her life after TWO weeks???? OH MY GOD!!! Are you kidding me? I am a grief therapist as well as a widow and I cannot believe that I actually read this. OF COURSE she is STILL DEVASTATED. Did you think about consulting with a grief counselor before writing this article? Do you have even a basic understanding of grief before you wrote about someone grieving someone she loved deeply?

It it PERFECTLY NORMAL for her to have trouble getting out of bed at this point, and far too early to figure out whether or not she is having an abnormal response to an incredible and terrible loss. My husband, the love of my life, will be gone FOUR YEARS in a few weeks and his death was not a complete shock to me (he had cancer for 11 months prior), and I still have moments of grief and some days (his birthday/anniversary of his death) or weeks (like my birthday, our anniversary and Thanksgiving all fall in the same week) that really can take me down.

For the first year I was a wreck and the first few months I couldn’t stop crying, even in public. I am also an attorney and I would be on the Acela in the morning from NYC to DC and that train is full of lawyers and politicians (and one morning, Tim Gunn when he was traveling to DC to testify about artists and copyright) and I would be sitting there in a business suit with a brief case and laptop, with tears just flowing down my face and I COULD NOT stop it.

Because as a person who has done grief work and been a grief counselor for so many years, I was so open to my grief that I could not stop it. I did not want to be sitting on that train filled with the stiffest group you could imagine (lawyers, lobbyists, politicians etc) crying my heart out but I had to work and I could not stop it. The train is PACKED in the morning as it’s the fastest way to get from NYC to DC (even faster than taking a plane), and many people make that trip every day or several times a month. I took it every day for several weeks as I was working during the day but as a single parent (newly widowed with a teenage daughter) I had to come home every night.

Not only had my job, which pretended to be “okay” with me working from home during Michael’s illness decided that more than a few days of grief was ridiculous but I had broken my hand DURING A BUSINESS TRIP when he was ill and I continued to care for him and write briefs 12 hours a day sitting by his bedside with a BROKEN RIGHT HAND.

And they had the NERVE to tell me, after his memorial service, one week after he passed, that it was TIME TO STOP OBSESSING ON IT AND GET BACK TO WORK. They told me his death wasn’t a surprise and I knew it was coming and time to show up at the office and do my job.

And by “my job” they meant travel from early in the morning to late at night knowing I had a daughter at home who had been Daddy’s Little Girl and was also devastated by his loss. Because even if we “knew” it was coming, he was still there and said “I love you” first thing every morning and last thing every night…and then he vanished along with everyone else…and we were left with an empty house, a broken heart and no more “I love you’s” from the person we both adored and who adored us. And my daughter who had been coming home to a house full of people each day, I was there with her father as well as 2 caregivers and, many afternoons, hospice workers, was now coming home to an empty house and I didn’t get in until well past 10 each night. She left at 7 in the morning for school and I left shortly thereafter and she was typically in bed by the time I got home. We barely saw each other at a time when we probably needed each other the most.

NOTHING prepares you for the absence of someone you love with all your heart, not even 11 months of cancer, but for a sudden death of someone so young that you love with all your heart, it is unthinkable, unfathomable…and to say “even though time has passed” is SO disrespectful and so blatant in its misunderstanding of grief and lack of compassion toward this woman and all those who grieve more than two weeks. And it horribly misinforms those who do not know what a devastating loss feels like or how you should act after you had one.

Our society is not built to honor those in mourning…you get 3 days off for the death of a family member, maybe 5 for a spouse, and it’s then, “Get back to work and stop your feelings!!!” People told me ridiculous things like, “It’s not like you didn’t know it was coming….” or “I know how you feel, my mother died…” (you do NOT know how I feel and every loss is different even if MY mother died, we did not have the same relationship as you! But you cannot tell ME that losing your parent is the same as losing the love of your life…because there is no Universe where that is the same thing. I can’t even say that I know how Lea Michele feels or any other person who lost the love of their life…I can empathize and sympathize but I cannot know, truly know, as we had very different relationships and are different people and everyone responds differently…a person’s grief in response to a loss is different than everyone else’s in the world…you can’t compare your grief to someone else’s or your loss to someone else’s even if they lost their mother and you lost yours…every one is unique).

Our society is COMPLETELY DYSFUNCTIONAL when it comes to grief and grieving and we are going backwards, not forward, which only makes it harder for people to truly mourn their loss, heal their heart and move on. Articles like this one ADD to the problem. It’s sensationalist, wrong-headed, lacks compassion and awareness and does a disservice not just to this young woman but to everyone who has experienced a loss and is expected to “move on” within weeks.

Writers need to talk to grief specialists, grief counselors and grief experts (and not the idiotic talking heads on daytime television who claim to know about grief and most certainly do not from what I’ve heard out of these empty barrels that make the most noise) before they write ONE WORD about it. The recent inclusion of grief in the DSM and the inability of this society to understand GRIEF is so evident in this article and many others like it. It’s truly off-the-mark and could use some expertise in the subject area before a writer even begins to think about writing about it.

Leave this poor young woman alone in her grief…she is young and probably has not experienced much trauma in her life, she was completely stunned by the death of the man she loved, she is BARELY into healing from this tremendous loss and before you write about “some time has passed” try writing that when it’s more than two weeks or two months, and in some cases a lot longer than that. Actually, her grief process is NONE of your business.

It’s so obvious this article was written for solely commercial reasons and to be so callous as to use this young woman’s grief as a reason for getting traffic to the site. That is prostitution at its finest. DO NOT support sites that publish garbage like this. They make it sound like she’s some sort of mental case because she can’t get out of bed in less than two weeks. NO, that is NORMAL. If we’re six months down the road and she’s not getting out of bed, there’s a problem, but it is too early to tell and she most likely has a good support system which includes counseling and people who are just letting her be in her grief. I’m sure the people around her are concerned for her well-being and if it becomes evident that she needs some help, they will get it for her. But right now she is having a NORMAL AND NATURAL reaction to the tremendous loss she has suffered.

If there is a good article written about her with a clear understanding of grief and how devastated someone can be…then please support that writer (who has done his or her homework) and a site which has supported the writer in doing the research and furthering the understanding of the grief process. This world needs MORE of that kind of journalism and not this sensationalistic nonsense (written by hacks) that adds nothing to the help and healing that grieving people need. If you’re going to write about celebrities and their “issues,” do it in a way that HELPS the reading public, not harms it as this one does.

Everyone in this society should be allowed more than TWO WEEKS to grieve and people should understand (unlike the stiffs on the Acela (with the exception of Tim Gunn whom I love) who looked at me as if I had measles or typhoid or something) when I was crying over the loss of my love and the idiotic people I worked for who put me on that train when I could barely walk, yet alone commute from NY to DC every day for weeks on end. If someone is sitting in a business suit, looking fairly business-like, but they are crying…they have not just lost their mind…most likely they have lost their love and would much rather be crying at home and not on the train. So if you know someone who is at home crying and not being able to get out of bed because it’s very early in the process—LET THEM BE. Just be there, let them know you care, offer to do anything for them, offer hugs but don’t try to hug someone who is crying without asking (many times a hug is taken by the person being hugged as a signal to STOP CRYING). And just be there when they need you and leave them be when they don’t.

Our society needs to stop perpetuating this insane notion that grief is something that needs to be wrapped up within weeks or even months for that matter…everyone grieves differently and no one should be rushed along. Unresolved grief just scars and creates more problems for people and issues that damage future relationships. Being able to grieve openly and honestly is the POINT of grief…grief is a NORMAL AND NATURAL RESPONSE TO LOSS. It is healing and helpful when it is allowed to HAPPEN.

Please pass on this information and be there for people who are grieving for as long as they need you there, and leave them quietly be when they need to be alone. Please do not allow sensationalistic journalists to continue the myths around grief and loss in an effort to draw in the reading public. Support those who do their research and INFORM the public that grief is normal and necessary and not all wrapped up in a bow within a short time. Thank you.

Susan J. Elliott, J.D., M.Ed.
Author, media commentator, relationship expert, grief counselor, attorney
“Getting Past Your Breakup: How To Turn A Devastating Loss Into The Best Thing That Ever Happened To You” (Da Capo 2009)
“Getting Back Out There: Successful Tips for Dating and Findng Real Love After The Big Breakup” (Da Capo 2014)

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