Tuesday, April 29, 2014

When Someone is Grieving...

I've always been one of those people who never knew what to say when someone was grieving. I'd always send a card or flowers, and I'd always offer an open ear....but I honestly never felt like I knew the "right thing to say".

Well, after the loss of my dad a few months ago, and being the "griever", a lot of people reached out to me to offer their support. Some good..and unfortunately, some bad.
Sometimes, there isn't a "right thing to say", but there are definitely plenty of "wrongs thing to say"
So, I thought I'd write a little post about what NOT to do when someone is grieving.

(Please note: this is ALL my opinion, everyone grieves differently and every situation is unique.)

1. DON'T...acknowledge it in public:
I was at a birthday party a month after and someone came up to me to offer their condolences in a very touching way...making me CRY at a party! And a few people (strangers) overheard the convo, which made those people give me a sad, I'm-sorry-for-you-look all night.
And honestly, it kind of ruined the rest of my night. It was a night where I was trying to take my mind off of everything going on, but instead I was reminded of it.
So please...acknowledge it privately!!

2. DON'T...ever say "I know how you feel"
A few people reached out to me and said "I know exactly how you feel". That one statement makes me so angry, because I'm 300% sure that nobody knows exactly what anyone is going through. Just because you've experienced a loss doesn't mean your situation was in any way close to someone else's.
One friend actually had the nerve to tell me "I know exactly how you feel because my husbands 80-year old grandmother just passed away last week." Nothing made me more mad than this comment, so please, remember not to ever say that!

3. DON'T...ever ask "What happened???"
I honestly couldn't believe how many people asked me "what happened?". PLEASE don't ask people that. If they want to talk and tell you what happened, THEY WILL. And if they don't, then sit quietly and offer your support.

4. DON'T...Make Assumptions based on Outer Appearances:
So many people have told me "you look like you're handling it great".
Just because someone chooses not to have break-downs at work, or use your shoulder to cry on, doesn't mean they aren't suffering on the inside.

Basically, my advice is "don't say anything stupid".
If you don't want to say the wrong thing...here are five easy/simple things you can say to offer your support:

1. I am so sorry for your loss.
2. I am just a phone call away if you want to talk.
3. I don't know how you feel, but I'm here in any way that I can.
4. I wish I had the right words, just know that I care.
5. My favorite memory of your dad was...

And if you just can't seem to find the right words...just remember:

I hope this helps someone out there.
Wishing everyone a peaceful Tuesday.


P!nky said...

Again, I'm so sorry for your loss.

I personally get so worried about saying the wrong thing, to someone that is grieving, that I'm often just a shoulder to cry on and a hugger.

Sending you love and prayers sweet friend.

Crystal said...

I'm sorry for your loss.

You gave great advice and excellent tips on how to support someone who is grieving.

Brittany said...

I seriously want to post this all over my social media because I know more than a few people that need to get the hint. Excellent advice and I'm so sorry for your loss. You and your family are in my thoughts.

Allison said...

I'm sorry for the comments you got that made you upset. It really does just mean so much to hear people say I'm here for you if you need to talk, etc. These are great tips!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your experience and what you found helpful. You are so right that it is hard to know what to say. Sometimes people mean well and say dumb things and unfortunately sometimes people really just don't get it.

Mary said...

This is really helpful. I never know what to say, even if I have gone through loss. No one's experience is ever the same. Thanks for writing this and I really am sorry for your loss.