In the wake of the shootings in Arizona, our nation is struggling with grief - and struggling with what to say to someone who is grieving.
“People are very uncomfortable when they try to comfort someone who is grieving. If you say the wrong thing, you can actually make matters worse,” said Aurora Winter, Founder of the Grief Coach Academy, and author of “From Heartbreak to Happiness.”
Here are some tips on what to say at a funeral or wake to comfort people in bereavement:
You’re not alone - I’m here.
I can’t imagine how painful this must be for you.
My heart goes out to you.
What specifically can I do to support you?
Grief is a normal and natural reaction to loss.
Don’t feel bad.
Be grateful you had her so long.
At least you have other children.
You’re young. You can get another husband/wife/child.
It just takes time.
“Time alone does not heal,” says Winter, who founded the Grief Coach Academy after the death of her husband. She is passionate about helping grieving people. “The right actions heal. Get support and talk to someone, such as a certified grief coach.”
It is a relief to a grieving person to talk about their loss. Here are 3 steps to supporting someone who is in bereavement:
Acknowledge (their feelings and the situation)
Listen without fixing
Give hope and encouragement
If you are at a loss for words, there is nothing wrong with being authentic and simply stating, “I don’t know what to say.” “Healing is a process, and there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” says Aurora.
Aurora’s book “From Heartbreak to Happiness” is her intimate diary of healing after her husband died suddenly at the age of 33, leaving her widowed with a 4-year-old son. “If I can go from heartbreak to happiness, you can, too,” says Aurora.