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  1. #1
    Senior Member lightsun's Avatar
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    Default Grief: How to approach a person going through the grief state.

    "Grief: How to approach a person going through the grief state. There is a sympathy route, the empathy royal road and the pity avenue. It requires an active listening set of skills. In addition empathy comes into play with validation of the person, their feelings and what they are going through. Discuss the pitfalls of either mere sympathy or worse pity."


    Quote:
    "There are some griefs so loud they could bring down the sky, and there are griefs so still none knows how deep they lie." Mary Sarton
    LightSun Paul Peaceweaver

  2. #2
    Out riding fences Coriolis's Avatar
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    I would sure like to have the answer to this question. I find this very hard to do.
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...
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    Slightly Petulant Population: 1's Avatar
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    I think it depends on the person and their current state. Not everyone goes through the so called five stages of grief. I didn’t.

    Everyone is different. Now I know I say that a lot. Because it’s true- a lot. So there really isn’t a sure fire way to help someone navigate grief. Everyone has a different duration to their grief. Some people want to talk some don’t. Some don’t initially but then do. Some do and then don’t. Honestly it varies so much.

    The one thing I never do is compare my grieving experience to someone else’s. I may mention what I went through but never in comparison to their experience.

    When my father died I honestly didn’t want to talk about it and didn’t for a long time. The I’m so sorry’s seemed endless and after not too long rang so hollow. I just wanted to be left alone to process it by myself. My mom was different she didn’t want to be alone and for her the deafening silence after his service, when the flowers have dried up and the condolences have ceased was a dark place for her.

    So it really is an individual experience but never pity someone. Let them know that if they wish you are there for them but pity, pity is something you take on a homeless puppy with a broken leg, not a human being. Understanding and being mindful and respectful of their wishes is what people want I think.
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  4. #4
    Nips away your dignity Fluffywolf's Avatar
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    Let them know that you are there for them and then continue to hover in their general area without becoming too much of an annoyence or reminder of their grief.

    At least that is generally my approach.
    ~Self-depricating Megalomaniacal Superwolf
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  5. #5
    abcdenfp Abcdenfp's Avatar
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    i actually went through a course on grief therapy , because you will be amazed at how many things you can grieve, from deaths, to loss of a relaionship , job loss, pet loss , life goals loss...grief is a powerful emotional experience, and we are usually asked to skim through it, but it can shape and redifine a persons life experience.
    so when i see someone grieving i always acknowledge in a" i see your pain but i know that your feeling in a way i dont want to minimalize " because so many people suffer in silence usually just acknowledgment gives a little relief and i usually see them one on one a couple weeks later to let them verbalize, give them a grief therapy work book and be a open ear and heart.

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    This is a hard question to answer. Usually I just acknowledge how hard the situation must be for them and express that I am if they need someone to help them with something or to talk to. Often, I've found myself saying "I honestly really don't know what to say." I've later gotten feedback that saying this was more honest and better than saying "oh I'm so sorry" which I've known grieving people to actually get tired of hearing (albeit I say it too). And sometimes just your prescense by the person's side speaks volumes to them.

    I don't know if people do this nowadays, but growing up my mom and I would bake chicken pot pie. Well, my mom would, I got to use the extra dough and cut little teddy bears out with cookie cutters to put on top of the pie. We'd make them for people we knew who had either lost someone, had gone through surgery or a medical problem, or some other trying circumstance. I'm pretty sure that was her way of saying "I'm here for you" and being physically there without acting intrusive (although I don't believe she's done this in years, and I'm not sure if people still give food to others in times like this ).
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  7. #7
    Out riding fences Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LucieCat View Post
    This is a hard question to answer. Usually I just acknowledge how hard the situation must be for them and express that I am if they need someone to help them with something or to talk to. Often, I've found myself saying "I honestly really don't know what to say." I've later gotten feedback that saying this was more honest and better than saying "oh I'm so sorry" which I've known grieving people to actually get tired of hearing (albeit I say it too). And sometimes just your prescense by the person's side speaks volumes to them.
    I think a big part of my uncertainty in knowing what to do comes from the fact that when I have been on the receiving end of this, I have found the response of others usually annoying. I almost prefer the simple "I'm sorry to hear that", as long as that's the end of it and they move on to other things immediately. Telling me something like "this must be hard for you" is especially irksome. Why must it be? Because it would be for you, or someone else you know? That pretty much shuts down any thought I might have of speaking about the matter to that person. I have learned long ago, though, that what I want is quite different from what other people want, so hesitate to use my own preferences as a guide. (This is where the golden rule breaks down.)

    Quote Originally Posted by LucieCat View Post
    I don't know if people do this nowadays, but growing up my mom and I would bake chicken pot pie. Well, my mom would, I got to use the extra dough and cut little teddy bears out with cookie cutters to put on top of the pie. We'd make them for people we knew who had either lost someone, had gone through surgery or a medical problem, or some other trying circumstance. I'm pretty sure that was her way of saying "I'm here for you" and being physically there without acting intrusive (although I don't believe she's done this in years, and I'm not sure if people still give food to others in times like this ).
    Now this I can do: any help of a practical nature.
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...
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  8. #8
    Senior Member lightsun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    I would sure like to have the answer to this question. I find this very hard to do.
    (Generalization) people wish to be validated and understood. I have discussed the hierarchy of from the low end of the totem pole pity. Next comes sympathy. The best attribute is empathy however this is not a gift everyone shares. In times of grief it is better to be supportive and an active listener. This requires validation of the other persons thoughts and feelings. When I went through my own grieving process well wishers who were sympathetic caused me pain. They made such comments as I was so lucky to have known my wife.

    This only reinforced the pain of losing her. Since we have two ears and one mouth it is better to be a friend who listens than give out sometimes unwanted sympathy. The worst thing a person can do is be an advise giver. Giving out such statements as you have to go on with your life. Grief is a process. It is an individual journey. If a person does not possess empathy it is better to be silent than give unsolicited advise and not wished for sympathy.
    LightSun Paul Peaceweaver

  9. #9
    Senior Member lightsun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Population: 1 View Post
    I think it depends on the person and their current state. Not everyone goes through the so called five stages of grief. I didn’t.

    Everyone is different. Now I know I say that a lot. Because it’s true- a lot. So there really isn’t a sure fire way to help someone navigate grief. Everyone has a different duration to their grief. Some people want to talk some don’t. Some don’t initially but then do. Some do and then don’t. Honestly it varies so much.

    The one thing I never do is compare my grieving experience to someone else’s. I may mention what I went through but never in comparison to their experience.

    When my father died I honestly didn’t want to talk about it and didn’t for a long time. The I’m so sorry’s seemed endless and after not too long rang so hollow. I just wanted to be left alone to process it by myself. My mom was different she didn’t want to be alone and for her the deafening silence after his service, when the flowers have dried up and the condolences have ceased was a dark place for her.

    So it really is an individual experience but never pity someone. Let them know that if they wish you are there for them but pity, pity is something you take on a homeless puppy with a broken leg, not a human being. Understanding and being mindful and respectful of their wishes is what people want I think.

    Population: 1 wrote (all quotes are Population: 1 followed by my reply) (1) "...think it depends on the person and their current state. Not everyone goes through the so called five stages of grief." and "...really isn’t a sure fire way to help someone navigate grief. Everyone has a different duration to their grief."

    Exactly. Succinct. The stages of grief often overlap and turn around on each other. The process gets repeated. This goes on until the grief and cognitive dissonance over losing a loved one classed with your expectations on how reality was supposed to be between you and your loved one. The clashing with real reality is like a head on car wreck.


    (2) "Some people want to talk some don’t. Some don’t initially but then do. Some do and then don’t."


    It is an independent journey. As a friend of a person going through the grieving process it is best to be a supportive listener. This helps the person feel validated and understood. It can help facilitate the healing process. It is better to listen than to talk. As I remarked to Coriolis sympathy and worse advise giving are not wanted. In the case of advise give some of your wisdom and insight only if directly asked for it.


    (4) "...never do is compare my grieving experience..." and (5) "I may mention what I went through..."

    I do share my own grief process. It took me 5 years to overcome the grief and anger about the health care system. In sharing my own battle with grief it forms solidarity and a feeling of being understood. It is also shared empathy.

    (6) "...I’m so sorry’s seemed endless and after not too long rang so hollow. I just wanted to be left alone to process it by myself."

    These are sympathizers. In my own experience they rubbed the wound raw. It was not their intention. I know this and tried to be understanding. Nevertheless it grated as unto my teeth.

    (7) "...pity someone."

    This adds insult th grief. It goes without saying not to share pity. It shows a complete lack of understanding.

    (8) "Understanding...being mindful...respectful of their wishes is what people want I think."

    As I said in an early response people (generalization) wish to be validated and understood. LightSun
    LightSun Paul Peaceweaver
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  10. #10
    Mastermind Fieldmarshal Sacrophagus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Abcdenfp View Post
    i actually went through a course on grief therapy , because you will be amazed at how many things you can grieve, from deaths, to loss of a relaionship , job loss, pet loss , life goals loss...grief is a powerful emotional experience, and we are usually asked to skim through it, but it can shape and redifine a persons life experience.
    so when i see someone grieving i always acknowledge in a" i see your pain but i know that your feeling in a way i dont want to minimalize " because so many people suffer in silence usually just acknowledgment gives a little relief and i usually see them one on one a couple weeks later to let them verbalize, give them a grief therapy work book and be a open ear and heart.
    *warmly smiles*

    I'm not surpirsed.




    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    I think a big part of my uncertainty in knowing what to do comes from the fact that when I have been on the receiving end of this, I have found the response of others usually annoying. I almost prefer the simple "I'm sorry to hear that", as long as that's the end of it and they move on to other things immediately. Telling me something like "this must be hard for you" is especially irksome. Why must it be? Because it would be for you, or someone else you know? That pretty much shuts down any thought I might have of speaking about the matter to that person. I have learned long ago, though, that what I want is quite different from what other people want, so hesitate to use my own preferences as a guide. (This is where the golden rule breaks down.)
    I relate.
    When I went through the darkest episode of grief in my life, I just honestly wanted to be left alone. I wanted to deal with it on my own, in silence.

    Sometimes people's way of helping is truly not helping. I avoided to walk around, for the sole reason that being taciturn in that gloomy state invites unsollicited comments from people who want to force you to become magically happy.

    -"What can I do for you? Tell me!"
    -"Can you bring the dead back?"
    -"No..."
    -"Will you leave me alone now?"

    On the other hand, it makes others feel powerless too, and it invited a struggle inside of me to become strong, neglect my grief, or act happy in order not to make them worry.

    It also certainly does not help to tell others how you successfully dealt with grief and try to force it upon them. All of us deal with grief differently. We might have lost the same thing, but it doesn't mean we are the same.

    People who were there for just a hug, sought proximity in silence, acknowledging, listening and honoring that grief were and are the gemstones.
    الخَيلُ وَاللَيلُ وَالبَيداءُ تَعرِفُني *** وَالسَيفُ وَالرُمحُ وَالقِرطاسُ وَالقَلَمُ
    Swift steeds, dreary nights, and the desolate wasteland, all know me full well
    As do the sword, the spear, the paper and the pen.
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