What do You Say to Someone Who is Grieving?
Many of us have a hard time of figuring out what to say when we run into a friend or acquaintance who has recently lost a loved one. A friend of mine lost his wife to suicide a few months ago. At the urging of an old friend, he started attending the meetings of an organization called Survivors of Suicide. In a recent blog post, he listed some of the things he had observed at these meetings. As he put it, “Occasionally people have spoken about how hard it is to talk about their loved ones with friends and acquaintances. Folks are uncomfortable talking about suicide or death and many don’t know what to say. Some will even advise survivors to ‘just get over it’ or ‘stop dwelling on the past.’ There’s definitely a reluctance to hear the continued expressions of grief, guilt, and anger and a wondering about ‘just how long are you going to keep on feeling this way.'” He then goes on to say, “How good it would be if all of us could learn that listening and affirmation are the most important gifts we can give to those who have suffered such devastating losses. It’s so good to be able to talk about our loved ones and share our deepest feelings.” The message here is that when people are grieving, they’re not looking for advice, they’re looking to tell their story and share their feelings with someone who cares. This is what helps them through the grieving process. So the next time you run into someone who has recently lost a loved one, open the conversation with something like, “It’s so good to see you. How are you doing?” Then back off and let them tell you.