Question for You: Reader’s Opinion

On a run last weekend, while questioning why I put lungs through the same old torture over and over, I had two light bulb moments, probably brought on a delirious, oxygen deprived brain grasping wildly for something to think about other than the unfortunate state of my chaffing thighs. Sorry, just bein’ real, ya’ll. First, I realized that I don’t engage my readers as much as I’d like to. I know you all come from different experiences, backgrounds, and ages, which means you all have unique perspectives. I want to take advantage of that, which is where light bulb numero dos comes into play.

Here’s how this will work. If it seems helpful and people are interested in discussing, by means of the comment section below, every Friday, I want to pose a question for all my readers, and friends of my readers, and friends of friends of my readers. It will usually be a question that doesn’t have a right or wrong answer, one that’s up for debate.

bigspringThis week’s question:

“How should we (as friends, relatives, parents, co-workers, teachers, etc) reach out to someone who is grieving? Or should we even reach out?”

Grief is a messy, heavy topic. I’m sure you all can come up with a plethora of causes for grief – disease, loss, broken relationships, mental illness, trauma, infertility, and divorce to name a few. I grieve in a different way than you do, and you grieve differently than your neighbor, or your mom, or your stepsister. You get the point. We’re all touched by it in different ways, but no matter the differences, we can all agree on one thing, it’s painful. We don’t have to hurt alone though. We shouldn’t hurt alone. My question for you then, is how can we lovingly support people who are grieving.20160316_185238I thought about it for a little while, working through some scenarios, and I realized that sometimes my best intentions for loving a grieving a friend come across as insensitive. Going up to a friend in a public place, and asking how they’re doing, might not always be the best way to show I care. They might be having a normal day, and my comment opens up a wound. Maybe a personal card or email, which they can open in the safety of their own home, is a better option. What if you see someone grieving, and you want to let you know you’re thinking about them, but you don’t know them very well. How can you support them without being too intrusive. But those are just a few of my own thoughts. I want to hear from you.

sunsetGuiding questions…

How should we reach out to someone who’s grieving?

Depending on the situation, what are some phrases that should never be said? I know for me, phrases like, “I understand how you feel,” when I know the person has never experienced what I’m going through, are frustrating.

What are some words of encouragement that should be voiced? Is there something that really comforted you when you were grieving? “I love you” and “I’m here for you” are two I think aren’t pretentious or insensitive. 

How can we be consistently supportive without being stifling?

If you’ve never commented before, don’t be shy. I LOVE reading your comments. I want to hear from you. Also, if you have discussion questions you would like me to post, share them with me via email or in the comments section.

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10 thoughts on “Question for You: Reader’s Opinion

  1. This is hard. I think that one of the biggest things is praying for them before you do anything, but hugs or just providing a listening ear to them seems to be important, depending on the person, or waiting until they come to you (depending on the person).

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  2. This is definitely a toughy! For me, I find that showing them love and support during hard times of grieving is best. I show love by cleaning their house, making them a meal, cleaning their dishes, etc. Sometimes taking care of the other things is helpful when they just need time for themselves. Who wants to worry about food and housework when theyre grieving?!

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  3. I’m a shy person in general so this one is always hard for me. When I know someone is hurting I want so much to help but I get stuck knowing my boundaries. Though when I needed support during a time of grieving, I had friends who just said they were coming over to be with me. They brought food and spent time with me and helped with my kids when I wasn’t emotionally able to.

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    1. Me too, Brittany. It’s difficult for me to judge when I should step in and say something or just let the person sort through it themselves. Those friends sound pretty darn special. From what I’ve heard from other comments, I think helping with the little things is often the biggest way we can show we care. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. ❤

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  4. Evangline, I love this idea, and this is a wonderful question to put out for us all to think about and be a bit more mindful of. I know I tend to fall on the more quiet, introverted, shy side of how I show my sympathy. I tend to wait…. I’m not in that initial group of people flocking over to the person or going to their house immediately. Rather, I always wait for a moment where it is just me and the person. I go to them in a quiet moment and just try to say something small, but with the utmost sincerity. Such as, “I just want to say I’m thinking of you.” or “I know you are going through a hard time and I just want you to know I’m here for you.” You are so right in the fact that sometimes even bringing up the grief can open wounds that maybe the person had just closed. In that case I have personally found it wonderful when I know a friend of mine knows I’m struggling, but they choose to simply text me something pleasant or fun or uplifting in the morning, such as a simple “hi.” I personally think its a tough balance of not ignoring what is going on, but not making it the only thing we talk about. Just knowing that someone is there, thinking of you, is a beautiful thing, and let’s the person know that we are there WHEN they need to talk. ❤

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    1. It’s interesting that you brought up the fact that different personalities respond differently…the immediate responders and the ones who wait a little. The more I think about it, the more I realize that both responses are often needed and balance each other. Yes, sometimes the initial group of flocking people is overwhelming, but they mean well. The person who waits is just as important, and they show love in a different way. Your last point hit the nail on the head. Whatever the grief may be, having people who stand beside you through it, whether they’re outgoing and blunt or gentle and thoughtful, is so powerful and comforting.

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  5. I like this idea for discussion. I’ll comment if I have anything relevant to say. Dealing with grief is so difficult and sometimes there really is nothing to say that isn’t awkward. I agree that you should never say “I know how you feel” because really, we don’t. Sometimes just acknowledging that the person’s feelings are valid and just listening are the only things I do. I don’t like to give advice, I just want to listen.

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    1. Thanks for joining in, Ellie! I think you’re right when you say that giving advice isn’t the best way to help. Listening is always the kindest, safest, and most effective way to reach out to someone who’s grieving. It’s something I need to work on. I tend to try and “fix” situations instead of just being there for the person.

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