Bullying is traumatic and affects millions of children and adults today. Discover the three ways that bullying and loss go hand in hand and how to heal from the damage.
Grief isn’t just for those who have suffered the death of a loved one. It’s a natural response to any kind of loss. But how does bullying come into the picture? Believe it or not, there’s a lot of loss that takes place when someone is bullied. Read on to learn the three ways survivors of bullying are grieving, too.
What is Bullying?
In essence, bullying is aggression or harassment that takes the form of abuse of power. Bullying can be verbal, physical, emotional, or these days, cyber.
Verbal bullying may include teasing, name-calling, spreading rumors, using hurtful nicknames, mocking someone’s appearance or voice, or constantly redirecting conversations to make fun of a person.
Physical bullying includes hitting, punching, shoving, hair-pulling, tripping, pushing, etc.
Emotional bullying also encompasses name-calling, and includes rumor-spreading or slander–especially about someone’s private life, like their sexual orientation, medical status, religious beliefs, etc.
Cyberbullying takes place on the internet, especially on social media. It can take the form of making fake or offensive accounts made to look like the victim’s account, distributing private information online to humiliate the victim, or repeated offensive commenting on the victim’s social media accounts.
Bullying and Loss
While children aged 14-15 are most at risk for cyberbullying especially, bullying can happen to any person of any age. You might see it going on in your child’s social life, or you might see it happening in your workplace. Bullying hurts. But it’s more than just one physical blow. Below are three types of losses that can occur when a person is bullied.
1. Loss of Friendships
A devastating part of a bullying experience is watching friends turn their back on you. Friends might fall away for different reasons, whether it’s because they’ve heard rumors about your personal life, or because they’re too afraid to stand up for you in a time of need. Learning that someone you thought would be there through thick and thin is actually only a fair-weather friend can feel like a slap in the face.
2. Loss of Identity or Self-Worth
Both grief and bullying can strip away our sense of who we are. Losing your social reputation to a rumor or to public humiliation can make you question your self-worth. And when you’re treated like you’re worthless, it can feel like part of you has died.
3. Loss of Control
If you’ve been the target of a bully, it can be hard to make sense of why. You might wonder: If I did right by others, why didn’t they do right by me? This loss of control can be accompanied by a loss of trust in the world, and sometimes a loss of trust in yourself, too. You might be grieving life as you knew it before you learned that just doing your best wasn’t enough to control how others treated you.
Recovering from Bullying Trauma
The good news is that difficult times like these have powerful lessons to teach. You can become even closer with people you’d never expected to be close to. You can learn about new parts of yourself you never thought existed. You can grow into a sense of peace about what is and isn’t in your control in the world.
And it’s okay not to feel those things yet, too. Healing grief is a process. And healing the losses of bullying requires many of the same ingredients as any other type of grief recovery. First and foremost, you deserve a safe place to be listened to and heard with respect. Tell your story to a trusted listener. You don’t have to face your grief journey alone.
Bullying Hurts—Don’t Suffer in Silence
If you or a loved one or even your child are suffering from bullying, whether in school, the workplace, or online, you are not alone. We see you, we know you’re hurting, and want to offer you a safe place to share your story and feel supported in your healing journey. Contact us today to set up a free discovery call and spend some time with us – we’re here for you.
Sharon Brubaker is a certified Life Coach and credentialed Grief Specialist who, along with her team, teaches women who are grieving how to process their thoughts and emotions. To learn more about navigating grief within the family, listen to the full podcast episode here or download my free e-Book, The Griever’s Guide, which equips you with the tools to live life after grief; because no griever should have to navigate a broken heart on their own.