How to Talk to Someone That is Grieving
Death and loss are inevitable. They’re the most sure things about life. For some reason, though, we can get weird around the topic of death. Society has a few blanket statements to say, but are those actually helpful? Some of those well intended but ignorant things can be pretty damaging. Grief is a confusing emotion. People walk around someone grieving as if they’re on egg shells. Being real and genuine is much more effective. Here’s a list of what not to say and what to say to someone that’s grieving.
What Not to Say
They’re in a better place. This may get mixed reactions from readers – yes, you believe that to be true. The person you’re speaking with may possibly also believe it’s true, maybe not. However, no matter the circumstances of the loss, it’s invalidating to their feeling of emptiness. It’s likely that they’d rather their loved one was with them.
You must feel….(insert anything). No matter what their feelings are, those feelings are valid and acceptable. Slapping a label on what they should be feeling can promote shame and guilt if they aren’t feeling said emotion.
Look on the bright side. There actually isn’t a silver lining to everything. Sometimes, things just suck. Attempting to put a positive spin on what they may perceive as an utter tragedy can be extremely invalidating.
What to Say
Ask them what they need at that moment. There are a lot of mixed emotions with loss. We want to remember them fondly. We also feel pain when we are reminded of the loss. Sometimes they need to laugh, other times they need to cry. Sometimes they may even need to feel angry. Your support can change based on their needs at that moment.
Nothing. Literally…sit in silence with them. Nothing you can say will make it better or bring back their lost loved one.
I know this is hard. Let me know if you need anything. I’m here. You can offer the support without contributing to the chaos. With so many people rushing to their rescue, it may feel nice to have that friend or family member that gives them their space until they’re ready.
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