A Word That Makes Me Wince

Lately I’ve been thinking about words that I use a lot and like—fabulous is one of my favorites--and other words that make me wince.

In Jane Brody’s Personal Health column in today’s New York Times she writes about "Recovery Varies After Spouse Dies.” Brody writes that “Psychologists have long maintained that after after a brief period of sometimes intense bereavement, the vast majority of surviving spouse spouses adjust well…--a psychological outcome referred to as resilience.”

Maybe you’ve already guessed it. RESILIENCE is an over-used word I’ve grown to dislike, and its step-sibling EMOTIONAL RESILIENCE is a phrase I dislike even more. Why such a strong reaction? Because after my former husband died, contrary to what my therapist kept saying, I didn’t know if I had the “resilience” to continue. I didn’t feel strong and springy, that I would bounce back.

The Webster dictionary defines resilience as “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.” Dictionary.com defines it as the “ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.

When the word is used for a spouse to buck up after the death of their partner—be resilient, or you’re more resilient than you know—and if you don’t feel resilient, does that mean you're failing at grieving and bereavement?

The word, which crops up everywhere, has become a buzzword. PEOPLE magazine profiles individuals who are resilient after a disaster. Really?

Psychologytoday.com describes resilience as “that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever.” Really?

Resilience is yet another example of the psychobabble of our times. It gives short shrift to the serious depths of what’s involved for most people in healing and moving forward.