How To Speak To Someone About An Unspeakable Loss
A woman and her family moved to a little town in New Zealand. By the time she gave birth to her baby boy, she and her family connected to the community a lot. They were happy there. However, something happened that changed that.
Sadly, when the baby was just three months old, the doctor said he heard a heart murmur, and after a day, the baby passed away. The mother wandered in a fog of grief as she did the daily chores: cleaning, taking the children to school, shopping for groceries etc.
In the meantime, her new friends kept a distance, they avoided her wherever they saw her. No one called her, no one invited her anywhere, and she felt isolated. Nonetheless, after a while, those people apologized.
They explained that they were feeling very say and distressed about the whole situation, and they had no idea what to say. In fact, these people were afraid to talk because they thought that might say something wrong.
This happens in many situations, for instance, someone dumps your friend, a loved received bad news etc. You wonder what to say, but keep in mind that it is much worse to say nothing than saying something wrong.
So, in this article, we offer you five ways in which you can respond to people who have lost something/someone.
1. Control Your Feelings
The first moment we learn that our beloved has lost someone they loved, we are shocked. Our heart beats fast, our thoughts go too slow or too fast, and we may even be dizzy or experience nausea.
That anxiety is personal and real, and we should not numb those feelings. Addressing your own anxiety makes you stronger, so you can help the person who is mostly affected.
Find ways in which you can manage your stress: meditate, do yoga, go for a walk, to someone etc. Before you talk to the affected person, control your feelings.
2. Focus on the Affected Person
Isolation is not good for them, so make sure not to avoid them because avoidance may help you, but not them. They need your support, comfort, as well as involvement.
Even though there are no right things to say, there are things you should not say such as: “There is a reason for everything,” “I know how you feel.” You cannot know that there is a reason or how they feel.
3. Admit How You Feel
It is a good start to admit to this person that you have no idea what to say. Do something to break the ice, let them know that they are not alone.
For instance, you can say something like “I am sorry about this. I want to say something, but whatever I say it can never fix it. Just know that you are not alone, and I care about you.”
4. Listening is Important
The most vital thing to do is let them speak if they are willing to, and listen what they have to say. Do not interrupt them while they are talking. Do not say something like “I know, my dog passed away last year.”
Acknowledge their pain, listen to them, and do not tell them how they should feel. Let them manage stress as they know, some are numb, some are angry, and some turn to humor.
5. Offer To Do Something Specific and Practical
The most helpful thing is to do something ordinary like driving the children to school, buy groceries, cook a meal and so on. Ask them if they want to be alone for some time, or you can call them.
Asking “How are you today?” indicates that you are aware of this person’s pain, and you know they just want to go through the day. The woman that lost her son, found this other person very comforting.
She came to her home with a brandy bottle, and she said: “This is horrible, I am really sorry.” And, she sat with her and listened to her about everything she had to say. She was JUST listening, and she comforted her by being there by her side.
Remember, you cannot fix anything. You can just be there for the person that needs you. Be open to listening to them.