Both near and far, in massive numbers or individually, tragedy and death often find us unprepared and unsure of how to approach the situation.
Things You Should Never Say to Someone Who Is Grieving
- I know how you feel. Even if you have suffered a similar loss or are currently grieving yourself, every experience is unique, just as every relationship is unique.
- Everything happens for a reason. This could not be true according to the griever’s spiritual beliefs.
- Time heals all wounds. People who have suffered the loss of a loved one often report that their life is permanently altered.
- Be glad for the time you had together. Someone who is grieving will most likely cherish the memories of their loved one and be heartbroken at their loss, all at the same time. They are not mutually exclusive.
- At least he/she is no longer suffering. The fact that terrible physical suffering has ended in the death of their loved one is often not comforting to the bereaved.
- Remain strong for others. This suggests that the griever should hide their feelings or try to appear as if they are not suffering. Neither is a healthy approach to the natural process of grief.
What You Can Do
- Open up. Share your thoughts and feelings with a trusted friend or family member to relieve the stress. Tread carefully when doing so in a professional setting.
- Listen to others. Try to empathize with others and allow them to express themselves as needed. Recognize that processing tragedy is stressful and can cause people to act differently than normal.
- Seek joy. Do things that you enjoy, such as cooking, gardening or exercising. Pick up a new book, attend a sporting event, go to a concert or plan a weekend getaway.
- Protect yourself. Limit your exposure to dire reports by avoiding broadcasts on TV or your smartphone. Less is more when the media is focused on gruesome details.
- Serve others. Change your focus by getting involved in a community-building event, organizing a service day, or supporting a non-profit fundraiser.
Tragic situations befalling those we know or those being reported on the news can make us uncomfortable and cause stress. Awareness of certain coping techniques and specific phrases to avoid can ease anxiety and allow us to support others in their time of need. Remember to always consider your audience and setting before discussing.
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