Who we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us. Helen Keller, American author, political activist, first deaf-blind person to earn a bachelor of arts degree
Helen Keller has the right idea when it comes to words of sympathy. Offering supporting words to friends who are in emotional pain due to the critical illness or death of a loved one can be fraught with peril. Saying things like, “she’s in a better place” or “everything happens for a reason” or “I know just how you feel,” can be hurtful to many. Telling your own Super Griever story is not helpful either. Sharing a memory of the loved one, showing concern for the caregiver/grieving person herself, or saying nothing at all but being present is good too.
Don’t let “not knowing what to say” keep you from being a comforting person in your friend’s life. Send a card or a text, show up with tacos, offer to take the dog for a walk or their kids to a movie. Don’t be afraid to say, “I just don’t know what to say.” Trust me, she’ll get your message.
Affirmation: I care about my friends.
Coaching questions: When you have experienced a loss, what was helpful and comforting to you? Give some thought right now about how you might respond to a grieving or completely overwhelmed friend. Your words and actions will be ready when you need them in the moment.