Many of you reading this are not grieving a loss at the moment but you do find yourself supporting those who are. What makes you the kind of person people want in their lives during their grief journey?
I’ve been in both situations — sitting with a grieving person and receiving support while in my own grief. I’ve experienced wanting to stay clear of certain person while welcoming a return visit from others. May you along with me, learn to consistently be in that second group.
10 Reasons Why a Grieving Person Will Like You
1. They feel safe and comfortable when they’re around you
You feel safe with someone when you feel they care about your interests and are not just looking after their own. You feel safe when you feel love and empathy. You feel safe when there is kindness and gentleness coming from the other person. You feel safe when the person comes with a peaceful and calm presence.
2. They know you’re not afraid to hear them talk about their loss
Not everyone is comfortable talking about death or a traumatic event or a hurtful experience. A grieving person often wants to talk about their loss. I know I did. It was always appreciated when the person supporting me let me tell my story and didn’t feel the need to change the subject or squirm.
3. They trust that you won’t go telling their story to others
Safety rises when confidentiality is present in a relationship. If you want to close the door on a relationship, tell someone else’s personal story to a third person without permission from the story teller. It breaks trust and shuts down safety.
4. They feel no judgment for what they say or feel
One of the times where judgment can take place is with the emotion of anger. People get angry when they’ve lost something or someone dear to them. Angry at others, angry at God, angry at themselves. It’s normal to be angry after a loss. To judge it as wrong or try to reason with a person who is angry, shuts the door to the support they need.
5. They feel the warmth of your unconditional love and acceptance
Love warms hearts and increases the flow of healing and help. When people feel loved and accepted, they tell their story and are allowed the space to feel and be held.
6. They don’t hear pat answers or tired cliches
More than once I’ve walked away from well meaning people who were too quick with their words, easy answers or worn out cliches. Sometimes saying nothing is what’s needed.
7. They experience empathy not sympathy
Brene Brown asserts that if sympathy and empathy were people, empathy would stand close while sympathy would be far away. Empathy would connect and lean in. Sympathy would be distant, distracted and detached emotionally.
8. They appreciate the time you are giving them
Time is a valuable asset. When we spend it with others who are hurting, it shows we care and has an impact in a positive way. If you are begrudgingly spending time with the person out of duty, it doesn’t support a healthy relationship.
9. They know you are OK with silence
To be comfortable with silence is a gift we give to those grieving. We don’t have to say much to show people that we care and are with them on their journey. As the Arabian Proverb states, “The tree of silence bears the fruit of peace.”
10. They know you in it for the long haul
Supporting people well in grief is a marathon not a sprint. Not always but often. The grieving person appreciates knowing they have people who will be there long after the initial attention is gone. Grief doesn’t end quickly so neither should support.
The day will come, if it hasn’t already, when you will need caring people to sit with you in your grief. People you like being with.
What reason would you add to this list?