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Angels Across the USA Blog

13Jun

“How to be UN-Helpful to a Grieving Person”

“How to be UN-Helpful to a grieving person”

The title of this blog is NOT a misprint.  Many articles have been written about how to help those going through grief, for some reason there are still a lot of people who don’t get it.

I thought it might be fun to write a 10-point-guide for those wanting to be the least helpful, the least supportive and as ineffective as possible to someone going through a loss.  I think I covered most of the finer points here, but feel free to add to the list if you feel I have missed something.

  1.  Be our personal grief cheerleader – By encouraging us to “get over it,” you will put yourself immediately on top of our most annoying person list. Make it your mission to push us through grief at your pace. Phrases such as “you can’t live in the past,” “life is for the living,” and “maybe if you didn’t think about it so much” are also very UN-helpful.
  2.  Compliment us on “how strong we are” – You will be assured of making our skin crawl if you insist that “you could never survive such a loss” and “you don’t know how we do it” … and of course when you encourage us to “stay strong” it makes us want to punch you.
  3. Be an expert on OUR grief – Tell us about steps and stages, timelines and benchmarks and other psychobabble about what we should feel, how long it should hurt and when we should be better … also, be sure to use the words “new normal,” … we love that term!
  4.  Use as many cliché’s as possible – Here are examples of some of our favorites…“He never gives us more than we can handle,” “God needed another Angel,” “God only picks the most beautiful flowers for his garden,” “Time heals,” “There is a reason for everything,” “They are in a better place.” Any of these individually or in combination will make us want to gouge our own eyes out.
  5. Offer “if you need anything just call” – We need everything, we don’t know what we need.  Don’t make the mistake of asking us something practical such as “is there something I could do for you right now that would be of help?” … Instead, just wait for our call, it won’t come … but go ahead and wait.
  6. “Never” say their name – If you say their name, we might cry and we know that makes you uncomfortable.  Whenever possible change the subject or do whatever is necessary to avoid having the name of our loved one mentioned.  This is especially important on holidays, their birthday and the anniversary of their death.
  7. Compare our loss to yours – Explain how your cat dying or the death of your great uncle was traumatic for you and so you understand exactly how we feel.
  8. Tell us what our loved one would want – When you see us being sad, you will be sure to NOT cheer us up by saying things such as …  “They would want to see you happy,” “They would want to see you enjoying life again,” ”They wouldn’t want to see you suffering this way.” 
  9. Avoid us when possible – Take advantage of every opportunity to dodge us at the grocery store or other public places.  Don’t attend memorial programs or support groups with us.
  10. Remind us that we have others who need us – When we are in grief, it is vital that you constantly remind us to forgo our pain and stop grieving so we can instead show gratitude and shift our focus fully to those who didn’t die.

Please share this with all of those who might have any doubt about how they can be of no help to a grieving person.  You can’t get bad grief information like this just anywhere, these 10 tips are guaranteed to alienate, aggravate and hurt anyone in grief…I know this because I have experienced them all ❤️🦋❤️

About the Author

Alan Pedersen

Alan Pedersen

Alan Pedersen is an award-winning speaker, songwriter and recording artist. His inspirational message and music about finding hope after loss resonate deeply with those facing grief and adversity in their lives

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