New Ways of Comforting Someone who is Grieving

Monday, July 15, 2019
Grieving is a difficult process, and watching someone who is grieving can be an uncomfortable experience. Frequently we use the same generic statements, simply because we don't know any other options.

Unfortunately, these tried and true responses can come off as generic or insincere given the depth of their pain.

So here are a couple traditional responses to grief, and a new response you can offer to someone who is grieving.

Old Response: "They are in a better place."

New Response: "The pain of loss you’re experiencing is real and valid."

It"s very normal for humans to try and make someone feel better when they are in pain. However, a "bright side" attitude often ignores or minimizes the depth of grief the other person can be experiencing. Oftentimes these platitudes send the subconscious message that it’s not ok to feel all the negative feelings someone in grief may be experiencing.

It sounds counter-intuitive, but sometimes the most healing action is to simply let the pain exist. Acknowledge the depth and intensity of feeling of someone in the grieving process. It can offer comfort in a far more powerful way than a trite statement.

Old Response: "At least they…."

New Affirmation: "When you are ready to talk, I am ready to listen."

When we listen to someone's problems, our first impulse is to try and make others feel better, often through trying to "fix" a problem. Sometimes the most powerful gift we can offer is an open and accepting place for the grieving person to voice their feelings, without any attempt to fix things or make it seem better.

If we say "At least their suffering is over" or something similar, we are trying to make ourselves feel better. It focuses around our own comfort, rather than allowing them to mourn.

Old Response: "You need to be Strong."

New Response: "You do not need to be any particular way for people to love and support you."

People who are grieving are experiencing massive loss. It makes daily tasks harder, and showing up to their normal activities is more difficult and in some cases impossible. Grief can be very isolating. Let them know you are here for the good days and the bad ones. It can help ease the burden of grief to know that they don’t have to "be ok" to be around you.

Grief is a process, and these responses can help demonstrate your caring without any expectation from the person who is grieving.

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