You may be hearing the words, but are you really listening?
Posted on 31st August 2021 at 16:26
Listening to someone who is heartbroken can feel uncomfortable.
We’re used to people being happy and positive but when it comes to sadness, it can feel awkward and our ‘go to’ place is to try and make them feel better as quickly as possible.
Fear of how to approach grievers and assist them stops many well-meaning people from being there for these people when they are most needed.
We’re not taught how to handle sad feelings, so here are some tips to help you hear and help others:
1. Two ears, one mouth
When supporting a grieving friend, keep in mind when you talk too much, it stops the problem being heard.
2. Empathetic listening
Be a 'heart with ears.' Many grievers are desperately in need of support to help them in coping with their losses. They need someone to listen to them without:
Sounds easy, right? Try it! It takes practice - but it can be learned. Listening with empathy is one of the best things you can do when your grieving friend or loved one is talking about their loss.
3. Remember, you're not looking for a fix
There is little anyone can say that will actually “fix” whatever issue is causing them their grief. Grievers are not broken and don’t need to be fixed. Usually all they need at the outset is for someone to listen.
4. It’s okay to ask what happened
The truth is that most grievers really want to talk about this. It is in retelling their story that they have an opportunity to express some of their emotional pain that they are already stuffing away inside.
5. Let them tell their story
A good follow-up question is to ask how they found out. Keep in mind that the reason to ask this isn’t based on your need to know. You are simply offering them the chance to tell their story and express their emotions. This is often a subject to which a great deal of energy is attached.
We hope that what we’ve shared here offers you some direction with supporting your friends with loss.
We also have a book that can help your grieving friend, The Grief Recovery Handbook. Drawing from their own histories as well as from others’, John W. James and Russell Friedman illustrate how it is possible to recovery from grief and regain energy and peace.
Based on an evidence based programme, The Grief Recovery Handbook offers grievers the specific actions to address incomplete communications and unresolved grief.
"As a result of that workshop my relationship with Flynn has been completely transformed. I’ve got all my memories back of him whereas before I was stuck on the painful ones of the end of his life."
Nicky Clifford, talking about her experience with the Grief Recovery Method after the death of her son.
Are you interested in helping others?
If you're interested in learning how to help others recover from loss as a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist, learn more about our training programmes here.
If you have any questions, or would like to share how the Grief Recovery Method has helped you, please leave your comments below.
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