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Posts Tagged ‘helping those who hurt’

If those of us who are suffering loss in some form find it difficult to make sense of our own emotions, how much harder is it for those who try to help?

We have all been there – hurting for our loved ones, desperate to help, frightened of saying the wrong thing and yet not knowing what the right thing might be.

The simplest guidance I can give from my own experience and from listening to others is:

Talk less and listen more.

We worry about saying the RIGHT thing – and yet until you have listened very carefully and taken time to understand what has happened, how the person feels about it, and how much they want to tell you, whatever you say is unlikely to be helpful.

Grief is a long journey through a tangled maze of emotions. So don’t expect too much from yourself or from the person who is grieving. The journey can take a long time.

Ball of Grief - a tangled ball filled with emotions that a person in grief experiences

This diagram comes from a book by Norman Wright, a certified trauma specialist and counsellor . He has written over 70 books covering topics like bereavement, crisis management, divorce and relationships. He offers compassionate and practical ways to give comfort and support.

When my friend’s mother in law died she and her husband found themselves struggling with their relationship with their newly bereaved father.  This book gave them the understanding they needed and helped them to help him. It contains chapters about ‘How to be a miserable helper’, ‘If you want to help, listen’, ‘Understanding a friend in crisis’, ‘Helping a friend in crisis’. And, if you prefer to write a note (which is always a good idea), it gives sample letters of what to say and how to say it.

For an interesting read today, click here to read an article on What not to say to someone with cancer, reproduced on the Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer blog.

Go ahead, make my day!

And, as a little aside, the internet is full of wails from women who are losing their hair from chemotherapy. They wail almost as much about the endless comments on their appearance, as about losing their hair. So, although the most obvious thing to comment on is how we look (and it is very, very difficult not to comment) have a go at trying very, very hard not to say anything. 🙂

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