M. at The Maybe Baby -- a cancer survivor as well as an IFer & loss mother to twin girls -- had a brilliant post earlier this week about "awareness" -- of cancer in particular, but applicable to other life situations too. In it, she mentioned a thought-provoking article by Barbara Ehrenreich, a breast cancer survivor, titled "Welcome to Cancerland," which I read some years ago.
Dh & I (at home on a "staycation" this week) were watching a repeat of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Thursday morning (Wednesday night's show?) -- and lo & behold, his guest was... Barbara Ehrenreich, promoting her new book, "Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America." (You can find the interview clip on his website if you are in the States -- in Canada, clips are supposedly available on The Comedy Network site, but this one wasn't on there, at least not yet or not that I could find.)
She made some excellent points about how the flipside of our culture's relentless focus on the positive is that nobody really wants to hear about anything bad, and certainly not your problems. She called it an "empathy deficit."
Well, that certainly made me sit & take notice (if I hadn't been already). I haven't read her book (yet)(am looking forward to it), but her thesis certainly struck a chord with me, as an infertile/stillbirth mother -- the idea that people really don't want to hear about how you're REALLY feeling, urge you to "stay positive" and tell you they just KNOW this next cycle is going to be the one (etc., etc.).
I'm not saying that positive thinking is totally without merit -- but insisting that people going through a rough time MUST stay relentlessly positive, discouraging them from giving voice to the grief and fear that they rightly must be feeling -- is not helpful either.