Grief Education

A Better Way To Support A Grieving Loved One

Ashley Waite

"When you experience the death of a loved one, those left behind learn to navigate an unfamiliar life that has been divided into “before” and “after”. While grief is a universal human experience, western culture often fails to provide the support needed to survive the early stages of grief. As a result, the responsibility is often placed on the griever to surf the massive waves of grief.

One of the best ways to companion someone in grief is to “have the reality of your loss reflected back to you - not diminish, not diluted. It seems counterintuitive, but true comfort in grief is in acknowledging the pain, not in trying to make it go away.” 

In the book, "It’s Okay You are Not Okay" by Megan Devine, the author includes a list of things grieving people have heard from those intending to offer comfort and support. This list includes things such as: 

“You can always have another child or find another partner” 

“They are in a better place now.” 

“You are stronger than you think.” 

Megan refers to the second half of the sentence as a “ghost sentence” that diminishes or dismisses the bereaved’s pain. For each of the above sentences, insert the phrase “so stop feeling so bad” at the end.

“When you try to take someone’s pain away from them, you don’t make it better. You just tell them it’s not OK to talk about their pain. To truly feel comforted, the bereaved need those brave enough to sit with them in the darkness and mirror their grief back to them". 

Source: Devine, Megan. It's Ok That You're Not Ok: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn't Understand. Sounds True, Incorporated, 2017. "

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