By Irina Jordan
This post shares the highlights of the "Sorry for your Loss: What People Who Are Grieving Wish You Knew" book by Alicia King.
1. Listen. Then Listen Some More
Deep listening replaces the fear of “don’t know what to say” syndrome. We can “just listen” until something comes to us from our inner source of wisdom. Just be present. Be a witness. Be the calm in the storm. Be willing to laugh when they need to laugh. Be willing to allow tears when they need to cry. Open your heart to the experience in spite of the possible pain. By supporting the bereaved in these ways, we create sacred space for them to heal in their own way and in their own time.
2. Give Them a Choice
Don’t offer the grieved open ended, generalized favors with questions such as, “What do you need?” Be specific and given them a choice by stating something like this, “Would you rather I bring dinner tonight or tomorrow?’
3. It’s Not About You
When you approach someone who is grieving, remember Rule number 1. You are there to listen. Don’t burden the griever with drawn-out accounts of your own losses. In fact, don’t go into it at all. Mention it and drop it. Remember your objective. You’re there to listen to them, not the other way around.
4. Humor Can Be Healing
Humor can be the glue that holds survivors together. So go ahead. Laugh!
5. Don’t Impose Your Expectation on Their Grief
Let the bereaved grieve their own way, in their own time.
One-upmanship. It’s not just for class reunions. They may be trying to ease your pain, but it only comes off as some morbid competition that no one will win.
7. Grief is Powerful and Unpredictable
Grief isn’t linear. Expect the unexpected, and remind the griever that this is normal.
8. It’s Okay to be Happy Again
Help them move forward. Reassure them as they find happiness in their new normal.
9. Be Open to Grief’s Lessons and Blessings
“Death takes away. That’s all there is to it. But grief gives back. By experiencing it, we are not simply eroded by pain. Rather, we become larger human beings, more compassionate, more award, more able to help others, more able to help ourselves.
10. It’s Not Over: They Still Need You
Grief doesn’t have an expiration date. Don’t expect them to be “cured.” Continue your support.