In times of grief words can't convey the enormity of the feelings experienced. Often in these times those closest to us are also at a loss for words, and may feel uncomfortable with knowing how to give comfort. In moments like those, it is okay for a person to not say much. In fact those trying to console often put their foot in their mouths by saying the completely wrong thing, which is not what you are going for. When consoling another, if you find yourself struggling for words, instead try something different:
1. Acknowledge the loss - don't be afraid to speak the name of the dead. Often hearing loss acknowledged is comforting to a person. Simply saying I was sorry to hear the news of... can be comforting. After acknowledging it is okay to be silent. No one needs to hear about your great aunt who also had cancer, or that person who you know who.... Unless it is positive memories about the person currently being grieved over, just be silent.
2. Do less verbally, and more with your body. - Be physically present and in the same room. If they want to zone out by watching a movie, watch it with them. Take care of the necessities like cooking and cleaning. Deliver kids to after school activities, and ask how you can be helpful. Don't just be passive (if you need anything call me), instead call them, text them and then show up. Do, don't just say it. If you feel lead, ask if you can hug them, and then do it.
3. Remember loss does not have an expiration date - Grief is different for everyone, and it's not something that just goes away. Be kind in your interactions and remember that just because a funeral is over doesn't mean the grief is gone. Give them time to grieve, and continue to be there.
4. Long after the loss, ask them how they are doing, and really listen. - When a person is ready to talk, there is a lot that comes out. Sometimes a person needs to emotionally vomit up all the things they've been holding inside. Other times they may need to cry, or to not think about it, or to laugh. Try to gauge what they need, and fill that need.
When Words Can't Say Enough
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