Colleen M. Doumeng
Loss & Grief - What Not To Say
In my role as a grief educator and on my own grief journey, I AM learning so much and I am passionate about sharing and raising our consciousness around loss and grief.
This week I was sitting with a client who has experienced multiple losses of a loved one in less than a year. Her well intended partner told her, "you have to be strong, you use to smile, please smile." "You are so beautiful when you smile, I need you to smile." Well intended but not helpful. And, trust me, I have said this very thing myself before I knew better.
TELLING SOMEONE, YOU HAVE TO BE STRONG IS A BIG NO NO.
It fact it is one of the top ten things noted by my teacher not to say to someone in grief.
I have to be strong. What did you just say?!
I have to be strong for who, you?
Why do I have to be strong for you?
So YOU don't feel uncomfortable?
So let me see if I got this straight, I should be strong for you and put aside my pain so that YOU feel more comfortable? I dont think so...
Here is how my my client heard this,
"Oh God, what is wrong with me, what is wrong with this guy, our relationship, did I jump in too fast with him, things were ok before and now... I NEED to be strong, I AM feeling soooo weak and sooo tired, strong? strong? I barely got out of bed today....I AM a complete failure, I just want to run...no I dont I just want to sleep, I am ugly, now he is going to leave me if I don't get my sh#$ together, I need to move on, this sucks, I can't handle it, how can I possibly smile right now when all I do is cry, I'm trying not to cry in front of him and he doesn't even see that..where can I go now and who can I cry to and not be f'n judged? God, I am so ...sad, how can I be strong..? I need to......
I miss my mom so much..my mother would never of said that to me..."
My client felt worse in her grief after this well intended comment. I say well intended because this partner loves my client deeply. And, I know from my own experiences and because of what I AM learning myself around grief and loss, that we say the wrong things because we are simply just "grief illiterate." And, I also know that in our hearts our intention is to show up the best we can for each other and to help each other heal.
When you dont know what to say, say nothing, simply sit beside the person who is grieving.
Consider doing a random act of kindness for the person in grief.
Go get her a cup of coffee/tea or make her one.
Turn the shower on so it's heated up when she steps in.
Have a nice clean towel waiting and within her reach.
Fix the blankets on the bed.
Pick up the clothes on the floor and don't mention it.
Try to keep in mind that this soul is grieving and there is no timeline in grief. And yes, this soul may in fact be experiencing some old wounds from the past that are surfacing along with this loss.
If you are in grief right now ~
You are in the right place where you are in your grief.
There is no right or wrong way to grieve.
There is no timeline in grief.
It takes courage to allow our feelings to just be, to turn towards them, not push them down, numb out or deny them, to not resist them but instead, move through them. To allow the day to be the day.
Connect with someone you trust who can hold space for your feelings and not judge them. Make time for your grief.
Repeat, there is no right or wrong way to grieve and there is no timeline in grief.
You are safe. I AM safe.
You are deeply loved. I AM deeply loved.
The Universe loves and supports you.
The Universe loves and supports me.
All is well.