Not long ago I recognized an old acquaintance’s car as I left the grocery store. Before I was really even able to process it all I found myself thinking, I hope I don’t run into her. And then before I could even finish that thought it was as if I stopped to yell at myself in disagreement.
Don’t worry I was thinking all of this quietly to myself.
In the parking lot unloading my groceries I realized I have no clue what to say to someone who has lost a loved one, especially when that loved one was their child.
Sure, I could say something. And I am sure I am not alone in my ineptitude, but what can I say that is kind and helpful to this person who is suffering?
My first thought was to not say anything at all and avoid the possible conversation all together. I must admit I was very angry with myself for even considering this option. And since this moment I have been thinking a lot about grief and how I can best be a friend to someone who is grieving.
I suppose because of my increased awareness of the topic I have been more attune to others and their need to discuss things like death, loss, hurt, and overall extremely difficult situations. Recently I have noticed these topics are far more common than I used to recognize. Unfortunately, I think part of this inability to recognize is more of one’s choice. Difficult situations are not something new, but very likely something I and others avoid, ultimately diminishing the impact and knocking it off of our radars.
I have made a point to be more aware, and in doing this I have learned two very important things when speaking with others who have suffered.
- It is very important to recognize the loss or suffering and not attempt to belittle it through comments like, “This is all part of a plan,” or “They are in a better place.”
- It is often more important to be a good listener than to have something to say.
This morning I found an incredible post by another mother who lost her daughter, Natasha. This mother explains what she and others who have lost a loved one really wish you would say. I encourage you to read this incredibly honest and humbling post. I did and am very grateful for what I have gained.