How To Help 6 Year Old Boy Cope With Feelings What Not to Say and What to Say to Someone Who is Mourning

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What Not to Say and What to Say to Someone Who is Mourning

We need each other, especially in times of need. And it is important to never forget that human interaction is the very essence of a happy life. A positive outcome of that interaction is always based on respectful and supportive communication – saying the right things at the right time.

Some people seem to be especially blessed with the ability to connect. Others have a habit of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. The result in terms of grieving is that the bereaved is often more hurt and tends to withdraw from certain people at a time when social support is a key need.

Here are some comments that should have been kept secret. Next, we’ll look at some of the more helpful responses.

1. “You’ll find someone else (or another good friend)” or “It can’t be that bad.” These comments are often made to young widows or widowers or teenagers who have lost a friend. Sometimes it is prefaced with: “You are still young…” They hurt deeply.

2. “At least you have other kids.” The assumption that it is a comfort to have other children ignores that that child is gone and that he was loved.

3. “You’ll be fine” or “I understand what you’re going through.” Every person’s grief

is unique because every relationship with a loved one is unique. Nobody understands.

4. “He is in a better place” or “It is God’s will.” We do not understand the deep convictions that a particular person may have. The thing is that the deceased is not here, and what kind of God would want such a thing, many mourners may be thinking.

5. “You’ll get over it” or “It’s been a long time, don’t you think you should?” No one crosses it; they integrate and live with it in their daily lives.

6. “Time heals all wounds” or “Just put it out of your head.” As a friend who lost her 17-year-old son said, “Time doesn’t heal all wounds unless you work in between the minutes.” For the caregiver, this means allowing the bereaved a lot of repetition and retelling of the story. And no one forgets.

7. “It could have been worse, so don’t feel so bad” or “Don’t talk about it.” This minimizes one’s grief and is a sneaky way of saying get over it. Critically yes

encourage the bereaved to talk about it and express their feelings.

8. “It’s been over a year. Don’t you think this should be released?” or “You can’t get it back.” There are no time limits to grief and it is perfectly normal for it to return again. It can be repeated periodically for the rest of your life. Stating the obvious is humiliating for the bereaved.

All of the above comments have two things in common. The first is a lack of awareness of what constitutes normal grief. Another is that those who use these remarks have difficulty being around someone who is hurting. Grief is a lonely feeling to begin with – no matter how many people are around you – and all these comments do is reinforce the grieving person’s loneliness.

Here are some alternative considerations with a more fulfilling view.

1. “I wish there was something I could say to ease your pain.”

2. “I’m so sorry.” (Some people don’t like this after hearing it so often.)

3. “Do you want to talk now or maybe some other time?”

4. “It’s okay to cry whenever you want. Please don’t hold back.”

5. “How’s your day going?”

6. “What kind of day are you having?” (If the mourner gives the usual answer

okay, make good eye contact and say, “How’s it really going?”) You will be

surprised by the response you got.

7. “Do you want me to stay or would you rather have some time alone?”

8. Sometimes a hug, without saying anything, is all that is needed in that moment.

Remember that over 90% of the message conveyed is non-verbal. That is, your facial expression, eye contact, and other body movements convey most of the message. Your intention to comfort rather than fix what you can’t fix will come through your non-verbal communication. Always approach the bereaved with respect and the belief that the person is in charge of his/her grieving and will teach you how he/she feels. Be a student.

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