"Don't ask me how I'm doing. I usually have to lie."

It's so difficult to know how to comfort a grieving person.  Everyone is different. One client said, "If someone says, 'I'm sorry for your loss’ one more time, I'll want to punch them." I gently asked, "What would you prefer that they say?"  She could not come up with a response because there are times when nothing comforts. Most people are well meaning with their intention to comfort, but they may say something insensitive nonetheless. Other people are downright stupid. "I know how you feel, my grandpa died when I was three", or "Your mom died like three months ago, and you're still feeling sad?" Yes, nitwit.

Much of support group time is taken up by venting about insensitive comments or behaviors. So many grievers have complained that they see people avoiding them in public. Once a person has said their initial condolences, they don't know what else to say. Or perhaps a griever is having a relatively good day and they run into someone who expects them to be heavily grieving, so then they have to play that part. Most people have no idea that your loss will take a long time to incorporate into your world, so when asked, "How are you doing?" a griever has to decide how honest to be. Often the mask comes on and being authentic loses out.

Be cautious about who you share with and what you share. Don't set yourself up to be invalidated. Also, try to realize most people are simply doing the best they can with what our culture has given us in the world of bereavement. Don't allow the insensitive comments to stick. Practice using a Teflon mind.

Posted on June 15, 2016 .