As a person who is already mourning the loss of their child, I find myself feeling especially helpless as I see people around me who are grieving. I feel like I should be able to offer some kind of comforting words, and find myself realizing that there are no right words to say...ever.
no magic way to take the pain away. There isn't anything that can 'fix'
the situation. As a person who likes to fix things, this makes me feel
Recently, I have put my foot in my
mouth, trying to talk with other grieving people, more than I care to
mention....oh yes, I have. It just goes to show that when tragedy strikes, no one, not even
the bereaved, knows what to say.
The best thing that any
of us can do is listen, without expectation, to what is being said to
us. I truly believe that we cannot offer any "right" words of comfort.
The best thing we can do is LISTEN. Let the person who is mourning say
(or not say) what they need to. Offer support through actions and not
When we try to offer words of encouragement,
they usually get in the way of what our intentions are. We find
ourselves, accidentally, trying to hurry the course of grieving along.
It's not that we don't believe, or even understand, that grieving should
take a long time, it's more that we want to remove the suffering. We
want to make it "better".
There is no "better"....not immediately, and
sometimes not even after a couple of years. "Better" comes with time,
and often lots of time. Each day gets a little "better", even when the
days are feeling worse.
I am going to try to
illustrate this timing by looking at astronomy (which you will soon
see that I am no expert in - sorry Ms. Burrichter if you should read
In school we learn that it takes the earth
approximately 24 hours (or 1 day) to make a complete rotation on it's
axis. At the same time, it takes the earth approximately 365 days (or 1
entire year) to completely orbit around the sun. Because the earth is tilted, and
also rotating on its own, as it moves around the sun, we experience
different seasons at different times.
When we experience
a loss, in our own way, we become tilted (like the earth), and we begin to experience
different stages of grief (seasons). We continue to try to move forward
(orbiting on our own axis) the best we can in life (while rotating around the sun), and eventually we realize that
we've begun to heal (made a complete revolution around the sun).
biggest difference between grieving and astronomy, is that there is no
set timeline for the seasons, and we can't rush it either. The seasons (stages of grief) come
when the come; we don't necessarily get the luxury of knowing that in a certain amount of time this will all go away. We have to accept that healing will come when it's supposed to. We may not feel healed in one year, or five years, or even fifteen years, but we keep moving forward. It's all we can do.
Not everyone will understand, and perhaps most people won't, but it's not up to us to worry about that. We have to look out for ourselves and do the best we can. Our world is now tilted. We're going through things differently than we did before.
Our "better" will come, but it may take a while.
If you are struggling with grief, find people who will listen to you and not try to force you to find "better". Find people who have the power to listen and don't have to fix things. If you can find 2-3 people who can support you, it will help.
At some point, if you look backward, you will begin to see how far you've come, and though your "rotation" may not be complete yet, you can see that you are moving...you may not feel it (much like we don't feel the daily rotation or annual rotation of the earth), but you will start to see it.