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Sharing the Grief
Photo: Thomaz Scalquo Cia
My voice was shaky, and my eyes filled with tears. The only words I could seem to squeeze out were, “I’m so sorry.” I was attending the visitation services for my nephew who had been killed in a car accident, and everything seemed to be in a blur. Everyone was so caught up in grief at the tragedy of it all. I wondered what I could do or say to help soothe the numbing pain that my brother was experiencing over the loss of his oldest son. I didn’t want to add to his heartache, so I just stood there unable to speak.

If you don’t know how to act when someone you know loses a loved one don’t feel alone. It’s a natural thing to search for something to say that will make a difference, but somehow words seem so inadequate. Since that time when I experienced my “tongue-tied” ordeal, I have learned some very important things about dealing with those who grieve. 

Here are a Few Things to Remember:

1. Clever conversation doesn’t make things better. When someone is dealing with the loss of a loved one, worn out cliché’s and pat answers don’t help…they can hurt. Our words can be as simple as, “I’m sorry,” and “I’m praying for you,” but this is not the time to say things like, “They’re better off,” and “I know what you’re going through.” Although we struggle to find our words, it’s actually better not to say anything at all than to risk hurting someone who is already in pain over losing someone they cared about.

2. Touch can show them that you care. Quietly holding a hand, or gently squeezing the shoulder of a grieving individual can mean more than words.

3. Personal memories can be comforting. If you have a personal memory that is positive about the person who has passed away, it’s often comforting to share that with the loved one who is grieving. It is almost always appropriate to tell them how your life has been touched by those they lost, and how the world is a better place because they journeyed here.

Grieving is a necessary process in dealing with death. It’s tough to lose someone, but having the love and support of friends and family helps us to cope and find strength during the dark days of life. Our attention to saying and doing the appropriate things can make a real difference.

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By Michael Temple. Copyright © 2011 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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