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I am adopted and grieving the death of my mother. Over and over I’m told, by well-meaning people, “Oh, so that wasn’t your real mother who died?”

Possible Responses

  • Respond with silence. When a friend or college poses a question that feels hurtful, let protracted silence do the work for you. Say nothing and wait for the speaker to respond with an open-ended question: “What’s up?” Then describe the comment from your point of view.
  • Encourage empathy by telling them gently, “I consider her my mother and I would appreciate it if you did the same.”
  • Commenting on grief is difficult and sometimes awkward for all of us, when you feel ready, engage in a group dialogue around the issue.
  • Speaking up requires not only courage, but energy. You have the right to ignore comments until you have the emotional resources to educate individuals on how invalidated their comments made you feel.