Did you know only 19 of the 141 things grievers hear following a loss are helpful? How can that be?
We live in a society where the majority of help for grievers is directed toward the intellect. The problem is grief is emotional. A broken heart can’t be fixed by using the intellect alone.
When someone is grieving a death, well-intentioned friends and family try to help by repeating comments they heard following their own losses. They rarely stop to think if those comments were helpful.
The problem is simply a lack of information.
When someone you know is grieving a death it’s natural to want to help him or her feel better. So what statements can you take out of your vocabulary to be more helpful to your friends and family when they’re grieving a death?
1. I know how you feel.
Even if you’ve experienced a parallel loss you can never know exactly how someone else feels. That’s because every relationship is unique. You only know how you felt when your loss occurred.
2. Look on the bright side; at least his suffering is over.
When someone died of a long-term illness, it might be intellectually true his or her suffering is over, but the griever’s suffering has just begun.
3. Don’t feel bad. Be grateful for the time you had together.
Is there anything wrong with a griever being grateful for the time he or she shared with their loved one who died? Of course not! The problem is grievers can’t help but feel sad because grief is normal and natural. A griever can be both grateful for the time he or she shared with their loved one who died and feel bad. They are not mutually exclusive. This statement suggests they can’t feel both at the same time.
4. Everything happens for a reason.
Depending on the griever’s spiritual beliefs, this may or may not be true. The problem is knowing that a death happened for a reason doesn’t make the griever feel any better. When grievers don’t feel better they wonder what’s wrong with them.
5. Just give it time.
Time does not heal. Watch the video below to learn more.
6. Be strong (for others).
Here’s an example: When a man’s wife dies, people often suggest that he be strong for their children. Without realizing it people are suggesting that he hides his grief. Children learn by watching their parents, so the children learn that when they are sad they too should hide their feelings. This continues the cycle of misinformation in our society on how to deal with grief.