Learn how to acknowledge the unhelpful things people sometimes say to others in grief, and be able to apply helpful techniques.
- We talked previously about the awkwardness that comes with death. And as you begin to engage with the person with whom the loss has touched, you may be tempted to say nothing about the loss. Sometimes, it's because you are concerned that you can hurt the other person, or bring fresh memories and feelings about the death right to the surface. And other times, you may want to say nothing, because of how uncomfortable you feel about talking about death, loss and grief. Except, as I mentioned before, saying nothing ignores the glaring truth right in front of both of you. And it really doesn't honor the loss, or the connection that you have with your colleague, or with your friend. So, let's pay attention then to what's not helpful when a loss has occurred. The first is to act like nothing has happened. The second is to minimize the pain, so saying something like, "Well, the person's probably better off." A third is to turn the attention to your losses, like saying something like, "I know how you feel, "I'm going through that too." A fourth might be to assign blame, especially by placing blame on the person who's died, "Well, if he or she took better care of themselves." And the fifth is to hurry the process along, like, "You'll feel better soon." And the sixth is to reason things away, "Well, you know, the person lived a long life." A seventh might be to offer platitudes about feeling better soon, "Time heals all wounds." And the last is to suggest that one will never get over the grief or that it will last forever. That one's hard because it discourages reinvesting in life, especially when the person might be ready. So remember, the key is to show up, and to listen to the stories and simply recognize and validate the pain. And to offer help through listening, or something more that you can do.
- Understanding difficult feelings
- Defining grief
- Dealing with loss and change
- Supporting grieving colleagues
- Returning to work