Chris Colfer, who plays Kurt Hummel on Glee, has opened up about the death of his friend and costar, Cory Monteith. He sat down with The Huffington Post to talk about the return of the cast to Glee and was naturally asked about Cory. I imagine it must be tough to be on Glee right now, as this is the first question anyone is going to ask. But it just goes to show how beloved Cory, and the show, are. The interviewer asked him about how he was doing in the wake of Cory's tragic death. He said:
It's difficult because it's hard to mourn someone, but it's another thing to mourn someone with the world.
He then went on to say how fans actually have TOLD him how to mourn. Which is kind of bizarre. But listen.
I think a line needs to be drawn, because it's really unnerving to get messages from people, from 12-year-olds in Nebraska telling you how to mourn and telling you how to pay your respects.
People telling you how to mourn is just insensitive, but many of us have probably done it and probably didn't mean to be insensitive. Chris is talking about young fans, and they are certainly too young to know how to respond to death and to deal with death. But adults do it too. All it takes is saying something like, "When do you think you'll be over it?" or "Why don't you talk about him more?" or "You shouldn't throw/give away her clothes, you might want them someday!"
The reality is that everyone mourns differently. Some people may want reminders of the loved one around. To look at pictures or video of him or her every day. To talk about him or her every day. Some prefer not to. That doesn't mean that the person isn't being mourned. But some people prefer to do it more privately or to try to "move on" by not being constantly reminded of the person.
I've had a lot of people I loved die, and I've never been one to cling tenaciously to "things" that the person owned or wore. I have pictures of loved ones who have passed on in view -- but for a long time I couldn't even look at photos of my niece, who died at 7. If anyone thought that was insensitive, they would be wrong. But I burst out crying in hysterics each time I looked at her, and I just got to the point where that was seriously affecting my health and job.
Ditto pets that I've loved. I keep their ashes, their photos, but it's hard for me to look at them. I had a video of my cat that I had for 16 years and I looked at it precisely once. Of course, I burst into racking sobs. I decided not to do that again.
That isn't to say that I'm not grieving and not processing. But I'm more likely to want to tell stories about someone along the lines of, "I remember when so-and-so and I went to ..." rather than, "I can't believe so-and-so isn't here! I miss him/her so much!"
That's just the way I am, and everyone is different.
The cast of Glee may find themselves in an awkward situation where they are all expected to grieve the same. Getting together on set may mean that some people will want to talk about him. Others may not.
It's always difficult to know how to approach someone who has had a loved one die. I remember seeing an acquaintance of mine whose sister had passed away a few years before. As we said our hellos, my mind was nudging me to say something about her sister. And yet I had no idea if that is what she would have wanted. Maybe she didn't want to be reminded of her at that particular moment. I didn't know where in her grieving process she was. So I didn't bring her sister up. And then I felt bad that I didn't.
Grieving is one of the most difficult, most painful, and most private of emotions. Let everyone who is grieving do so in the way they feel is right for them.
Have you ever been told how to grieve?
Image via Huffington Post Live