Grief makes us uncomfortable, and we are at a loss as to what to do. Often we blurt out something we shouldn’t. Or, sometimes, we simply do nothing.
I had always considered myself a great friend — encouraging, there to help when needed, sensitive, able to see when people were suffering and how I might comfort them. But when my husband died so suddenly, I soon came to realize that, when it came to helping someone who was grieving … I KNEW VERY, VERY LITTLE!
As I began my own journey of grief, I became painfully aware that in the past I had not met the needs of my grieving friends as well as I’d believed. I thought I had known what to say and do, but I didn’t. I thought I had understood how long their grieving should go on, but I didn’t. I thought I had known what they should do, but I didn’t.
Then there were the things I knew I hadn’t known: what to say, what to ask. Should I talk about the grieving person’s loved one or not? Should I mention the good things going on in my life? Should I mention a relationship I have that the grieving person has lost? Is it okay to watch a movie with them that could remind them of their loss? Should I invite them to a celebratory event like a birthday party or a wedding, as it could also remind them of their loss? Should I just avoid them so that I don’t say anything wrong?
Talk about walking on eggshells.
When I joined a grief group, the first thing I learned was not to expect much from my friends so that I wouldn’t be disappointed. And it was true. It’s not that friends don’t care or don’t want to help. They just have no idea what to do or say. I was one of those friends myself. We are able to support our friends through many hard times, but when it comes to the death of a loved one it’s like we get tongue-tied and paralyzed. We are fearful, desperately wanting to help but feeling inadequate to do so. Grief makes us uncomfortable, and we are at a loss as to what to do. Often we blurt out something we shouldn’t. Or, sometimes, we simply do nothing.
I hope that what I’ve learned through my grief experience will help you be the friend you want to be to the grieving person in your life — the one you’re trying to help right now. When we’re not there for those who are grieving, it’s not because we don’t care; we do. We just aren’t sure how to respond. And we’re scared.
But we can do it. YOU can do it! And with a little knowledge and willingness, you will. Because you already have the most important quality you need to be helpful …YOU CARE!!
About the Author:
Anne-Marie Lockmyer is an award-winning author, speaker, Advanced Grief Recovery and Loss Specialist and Founder of the Grief and Trauma Healing Network. Her work has appeared in notable media outlets such as Rolling Stone, LA Wave, and Billboard. She has been a featured speaker at multiple venues. She specializes in taking others through the journey of recovery – to be free from the pain of grief and loss. As a widow who suffered a devastating loss herself, Anne-Marie is passionate to dispel the myths of grief and bring hope, encouragement, and resources to those suffering from grief and those that care for them and want to help. Her mission is to bring individuals hope in the midst of pain and provide tools that help people experience joy in their lives once again.
To purchase The Complete Guide to Helping You or a Loved One Cope With Grief go to Amazon.
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