Helping someone grieving is something we all want to do but knowing what to say can be hard. Jodii says to remember it’s not always about what you “should” say, but what you “could” say.
“Thinking we ‘should’ puts us in a space where we think we must say something. We end up blurting things out that we probably shouldn’t say or don’t really want to say.”
“What’s really important in this space is keeping it simple, especially initially. What’s important is that somebody knows that you care, that you’re thinking of them, and you’re there.”
One thing that can be useful is talking about the person they’ve lost and what they brought to your life. Even in the absence of anything else it can be good to simply say “I don’t know what to say.”
“It’s just really about connecting with the person that’s grieving.”
Connection does not always require perfectly thought out, wise input. Non-verbal support is a simple step often forgotten.
“Sometimes silence is really powerful. Sometimes silence and a hug is all someone needs.”
What not to say
Jodii says it’s important to always keep the conversation focused on the other person, not ourselves.
“It’s about that person and their grief, it’s not about you.”
Using lines like “I know how you’re feeling” or “I know what you’re going through” can be unhelpful in hindsight. Every person’s grief can be different and those expressions can take away from the legitimacy of those feelings.
Another common faux pas according to Jodii is to say “they had a good innings.” Although the elderly can have a long life, the love and loss can still be the same. In the initial period of grief this sentiment can be very unhelpful.
Before going to visit a person who is grieving, it can be wise to think through what you want to communicate. Helping people grieving can be difficult and preparing yourself will help.