Table of contents:
- All of us more than once found ourselves in a situation where someone close needed our participation. Have we always expressed our support correctly?
- Seven taboo phrases
Video: 7 Inappropriate Phrases That Will Not Help Or Support In Grief. Refrain From Them - Society
All of us more than once found ourselves in a situation where someone close needed our participation. Have we always expressed our support correctly?
Anyone who at least once had a chance to hear them in difficult moments guesses about the inappropriateness of the common phrases “Hold on!”, “Everything will be fine”, “You are strong, you can handle it”. These are excuse words that do not carry any semantic load, this is "white noise" - zero sympathy, zero empathy. What is it proposed to hold on to? How do you know that everything will be okay? Who? When? Does being strong cancel out the fact that I am terribly hurt and scared?
However, even if we are genuinely involved and sympathetic, we sometimes utter taboo phrases completely unconsciously. These are words that, instead of supporting and helping the sufferer, only hurt him even more.
Seven taboo phrases
1. "Life goes on", "It's time to pull yourself together and move on."
You may feel that these words can cheer you up. However, the process of recovery is different for everyone and takes as long as the suffering person needs. Grief does not go “on schedule,” there is no deadline for healing.
These phrases are manipulative. Behind them lies: "urgently correct yourself", "do not complicate my life with your sufferings." They indicate an intolerance to the discomfort you feel in the presence of the grieving person. It’s already difficult for a person, it would be strange to demand from him to serve your emotional needs.
It may seem to some that a “healing kick” can magically bring a person back to normal, help him “pull himself together” and stop grieving. On the contrary, shame and pressure are not conducive to recovery. This leads to the fact that the person either plunges deeper into his experiences, or puts on a mask of well-being, suppressing his true feelings. Is this the kind of effect you were aiming for when you uttered these words of "support"?
2. "What does not kill us makes us stronger", "God does not give tests higher than the strength of man"
If these statements were true, no one would ever suffer the consequences of trauma or PTSD. There is scientific evidence that overcoming small life challenges teaches us to be more emotionally stable, to pick up after setbacks, and to start over. However, there is no evidence that truly serious events or experiences build character.
If you are bursting to say "what does not kill us …", please stop. It is possible that you said something like that to yourself during difficult times and it helped you feel more confident. We all tend to use rationalization to calm down and get a better perspective. It is good if it worked for you, but if you are going to “support” someone like that, you shouldn't. It is very likely that this will only intensify the despair and suffering of a person who, at the moment you utter such “wise” sayings, may be especially acutely experiencing his powerlessness (not like all these powerful people from titanium who are only tempered from adversity).
3. "It could be worse", "It's not that bad"
And it really may be so. If you look at the situation soberly and from the outside. And with these statements, you devalue the feelings and pain of another person. Which is more traumatic - a house destroyed by an earthquake or a robbed apartment? The death of a grandfather or the loss of a pet? Stolen car or stolen wallet? What's the point in comparisons? This is not a competition "who is worse", not a championship for the title of "the most unfortunate person on the planet"!
It may seem that talking about bigger troubles that happened to others minimizes the painful experience. But no, it can lead to even more grief. The information that the lives of many people on the planet are full of suffering and loss is not exactly what is required as support.
4. "But you have …", "You always have …"
Yes, in the life of a person experiencing grief, there may still be a lot of wonderful things - friends, family, beloved pet, interesting work, hobbies, financial well-being. It may seem that a reminder of this can cheer up the grieving person and return him to a major mood.
Unfortunately, even the most significant advantages do not cancel the suffering experienced. With what force the traumatic situation influenced a person, it is almost impossible to determine from the outside. It is not worth adding to his already painful state a feeling of guilt for the fact that, being in the process of grieving, he is not able to rejoice in what remains in his life.
5. Time heals
Unfortunately, time alone does not heal anything. Taken literally, this statement can support the illusion of grieving that it is enough to simply be patient and allow the passage of time to magically heal painful wounds. This is contrary to everything science knows about the process of grieving and recovering from traumatic events.
Avoiding touching his pain, a person freezes like a fly in amber, expecting that time will save him from suffering. And for years he remains in these painful experiences. Yes, it takes time to heal, during which a person needs to do serious work - the work of grief. To go through all the stages of accepting loss, living and acknowledging all your feelings.
6. "I understand you", "I know how you feel"
You may feel that this is how you express your solidarity. Unfortunately, the chances are high that you, unwittingly, can devalue the uniqueness of the grieving person's experience. Even if you have had a similar experience, you cannot know exactly how the other person is feeling. In addition, few people can stop there. Most often, these words are followed by a detailed description of their own history as a comparison. And, as mentioned above, comparisons are not supported by everyone and not always.
A person who has decided to share his experiences and painful feelings with you is in a very vulnerable state. Most likely, other people's stories are not something he is ready to talk about at this moment. It is vital for him to speak out himself and be heard. Show empathy by briefly drowning out your need to share. There will come a time when the grief-stricken person will again gain the ability to see and hear others, and then you will tell about your experience.
7. "Everything happens for a reason", "The Universe is sending you a lesson to be learned."
You can truly truly believe this. Even if you are sure that this is how the world works, you have been convinced many times by your own example that it is useful and good, please do not "preach." The grieving person may not share your optimism or your beliefs. If you believe in God, who gives the Universe, higher powers - that's great, but please don't tell someone grieving or grieving that his suffering is some special plan. It seems to you that by doing so you are taking a sincere part in a person's life and wish him only the best, but such "support" is far from always and does not benefit everyone.
The best way to understand what the grieving person needs is to listen carefully and hear it. Be serious about being chosen as the listener and be empathetic. Try to show sympathy, do not evaluate what you hear, do not try to "fix" or "cure" the person. Do not do anything without the direct request of the grieving person - do not give advice, do not tell stories "on the topic", do not read lectures.
It seems to us that in response to revelations, it is simply necessary to say at least something. In fact, eye contact, silent empathic presence and listening are enough. People who experience mental pain often feel lonely and “disconnected” from life.