Sophie Perry is right: there is no one appropriate way to grieve

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Moya Crockett
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Luke Perry’s daughter has spoken out against ‘grief-shamers’ who tell her how she should mourn her father’s passing.

In his beautiful, elegiac novel Grief is the Thing with Feathers, Max Porter tells the story of a husband who has lost his wife, and two young boys who have lost their mother. The book is full of quotes about grief and trauma that ring sharply true, but perhaps the most incisive is this: “Moving on, as a concept, is for stupid people, because any sensible person knows grief is a long-term project. I refuse to rush. The pain that is thrust upon us let no man slow or speed or fix.”

Grief is the Thing with Feathers reminds us all that there is no one way that we can or should mourn the loss of a loved one. But inevitably, there will always be people who judge others’ grieving processes; who decide that they are, somehow, not performing their sadness in an appropriate manner. And unfortunately, Sophie Perry – the daughter of Riverdale and Beverly Hills, 90210 actor Luke Perry, who died from a stroke on 4 March – has already had to contend with these grief-shamers.

On Instagram, Perry wrote that she had “received a lot of attention online” in the wake of her father’s death. “Most of it has been positive but of course, some people just can’t be nice.”

The 18-year-old, who is currently living in Malawi, said she had been criticised online for not behaving like a grieving daughter ‘should’.

“Yes I am hurt and sad and crying and beside myself with what happened to my dad,” she wrote. “It’s the worst thing to ever happen in my life. And I am torn the fuck up over it.

“But I’m not going to sit in my room and cry day in and day out until the internet has deemed it appropriate for me to do otherwise,” she continued. “And if you knew my dad you would know he wouldn’t want me to. So you shouldn’t either.

“So to those of you shaming me for my language and my wardrobe and most disgustingly, my grieving process, do us both the favour and just unfollow.”

Perry is right. Of course she is. When we lose someone we love, we may be furious or numb or knocked to the floor with the weight of our sadness. We might want to lie in bed for weeks or throw ourselves straight back into work or lose ourselves on dancefloors for a couple of months. We might need to be surrounded by people, or we might need to be completely alone.

So kudos to Perry for shutting down anyone who dares criticise her for handling the loss of her father in the way that she needs to. Everyone mourns death in different ways at different times – and absolutely none of these ways are ‘wrong’.

Main image: Sophie Perry with her father Luke and brother Jack in 2004. Credit: Getty Images 


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Moya Crockett

Moya is a freelance journalist and writer from London, and a former editor at Stylist.