What to Say (and What Not to Say) to a Grieving Person p.2

Grieving is a normal part of the life and can occur following the loss of 

a loved one — whether through death or a broken relationship

a job a childhood home autonomy or independence as a result of illness or old age less tangible things, such as future opportunities or prospects

Support from family, friends, coworkers, or acquaintances can be extremely beneficial to those who are grieving. However, many people find themselves at a loss for words, unsure of what to say (or not say) part 2.

What should you not say to a Grieving person?

Devine shares a short list of things she and many others have heard while grieving in her book. Some of these statements may come across as dismissive, such as:

At the very least, you kept them for as long as you did

They're in a better situation now

At the very least, you now understand what is truly important in life

In the end, this will make you a better person." You won't always feel like this

It's all part of the game plan

There is a reason for everything

Other responses may be blame-laden, such as:

You should have known better

Perhaps you should have followed your intuition that day

I'm sure you won't dismiss your inner voice the next time

According to Devine, these types of reactions occur because we are hardwired to not only fix situations that we perceive to be problems, but also to assuage our own concerns.

"When we think we're trying to connect with someone, we say things that help us manage our anxiety," she adds.

When you respond to someone who is going through a difficult time with phrases like the ones above, you're telling them that your discomfort is more important than their genuine feelings.

Devine refers to a "ghost-sentence," which is one that people who are grieving hear at the end of responses that often sound similar to, "so stop feeling bad."

"The problem is, in all those familiar lines, there's an implied second half of the sentence. That second half of the sentence unintentionally dismisses or minimises your pain; it erases what is now true in favour of some alternate experience. "That ghost-sentence tells you that it's not okay to feel the way you feel," Devine explains.

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