(Disclaimer: If any of this sounds rude, I apologize. I am just speaking in my own personal experience and how I feel on the subject. If you don’t like it, don’t read it.)
It’s funny how two (or would you count it was three?) words are the worst words to say to someone who is grieving. That’s right. I said it. It’s THE WORST. I’ve had people tell me that I’m insensitive because I’ve refused to tell someone “I’m sorry for your loss”.
Think about it.
Your “I’m sorry” is not going to help the person who is grieving to move forward. Your “I’m sorry” barely counts as tell someone that you’re there for them. It’s a blanket response. It’s a response that people have grown to think is the “proper” response. However, let me tell you.. it’s not the one a person wants to hear.
Honestly, condolences are hard. They’re really hard to think of something to say.
I never knew how much it sucked to tell a grieving person “I’m sorry” or (even worse) “I know how you feel”. And honestly, even with going through as many life changing events as I have, I still struggle to tell someone “I know how you feel”, because honestly. You don’t. Even if you have been through that situation, because guess what, every situation is different. Everyone’s relationship is different.
“I don’t know what to say, but I’ll be glad to listen” (and truly mean it). This one, this was the response that I appreciated the most, because even though I didn’t want to put all my grief onto one person, talking about the person I lost had helped me the most. Now, don’t get me wrong, this isn’t the best for everyone.. but it helped me.
“When I was grieving, staying busy and talking about the person was helpful for me, but that may or may not be what works for you”. This is one that I really just thought of recently, because while one thing works for you, it may not work for the other person. I’ve recently decided that giving ideas (to someone who wants to hear it) is better than not giving them ideas. This not only shows you care about them, but also shows you how much you know about them.
Instead of ASKING the person to let them know if they need anything, try to tell them that you’ll do things that you know needs to be done. Know it’s the person’s garbage day? Tell them, “I know it’s your garbage day, would it be okay to take our your trash for you?” or how about “I know you have your hands full with the kids, mind if I come over and keep them entertained so you can take a nap or some time to yourself?”.
These are the things that a person who is grieving needs. They need to know that you’re there for them. They need to know that you are going to be there for the long run.
And lastly, if you find out that someone you knew from twice removed cousins best friends daughter, DO NOT ADD THEM ON FACEBOOK JUST TO TELL THEM HOW SORRY YOU ARE FOR THEIR LOSS. It’s overwhelming. If you don’t know the person and you aren’t friends beforehand, while you think it might be thinking you’re doing something good, it’s not the right time or place to “rekindle” that friendship.
Honestly, some of this probably doesn’t make sense or probably sounds like I’m rude or venting, but after seeing someone I know who is grieving post about overwhelming the overabundance of “I’m sorry’s”, I just related instantly, because I’ve been there multiple times and it is overwhelming and there are so many other things people could stay instead.
And yes, I realize it’s all with good intentions.. Next time you say something to someone though, just be a little more concious on what you’re saying.
Hugs and highfives,