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6 Listening Do's and Don'ts When Someone Is Grieving

Thursday, July 19, 2018
Knowing what to say to someone who is grieving is never easy. Sometimes the best thing you can do is hear them out. Active listening is a powerful communication technique in which the listener takes the time to comprehend what the speaker is saying and reply in a way that indicates understanding. However, not all forms of listening are appropriate. Follow these listening doís and doníts to help console someone who is grieving.

1. Do Reach Out

Sometimes when we donít know the right thing to say, we make the mistake of saying nothing at all. Itís often better to reach out and acknowledge the death and let your friend know that you are sorry for their loss and that you are there for them if they need it. If you are not comfortable reaching out in person, consider sending your condolences by phone or email.

2. Donít Let Fear Stop You

Knowing how to approach someone who is going through the grieving process can be challenging. You may be worried about saying the wrong thing or you might not know how you can help. Perhaps the person has expressed that they want to be left alone. While you certainly do not want to overstep your boundaries, let the person know that they have a network of friends and family who are always there to lend an ear or helping hand.

3. Do Listen More

While some people prefer to grieve in private, others find comfort in expressing their sorrow with a friend. Take the time to genuinely listen to your friend and donít feel the need to respond immediately. Even if there is a dark side to the passing, suppress your need to pass judgement and simply listen. Know that itís normal for there to be tears when talking about death. Actions such as crying often speak louder than words do.

4. Donít Avoid Mentioning the Deceased

Itís normal to want to avoid subjects that cause sadness. However, donít feel the need to always avoid mentioning the personís name out of fear of the pain it may cause. You also do not have to change the subject if your friend mentions their deceased loved one. Simply listen to what they have to say and respond accordingly with compassion and reassurance.

5. Do Check in Regularly

Show your friend that you truly care by checking in with him or her on a regular basis. Remember that grief has no timetable and some people will only take weeks to grieve, while others will still be affected months later. A simple phone call will do if youíre not able to visit in person. If youíre geographically close, consider inviting them out for lunch or a cup of coffee.

6. Do Reminisce

Reminiscing is an effective way to show your friend that you care about their grief. Share a photo or memory of the deceased if you knew them personally. If you didnít know the person, ask your friend to share a fun experience or story. By sharing memories, you are showing your friend that while the person may be gone, they will live on in their heart.

While no two people grieve the same, most just want someone to listen. By simply being an active listener, you can help console a grieving friend in a way that puts both of you at ease.

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