Occasionally, someone in our professional network sends along some information that strikes a chord. Dave would like to share one such instance with you.
In her article, The #1 Thing To Say Instead of “I Know How You Feel”, Amy Florian of Corgenius recognizes how helpless many of us feel when we’re talking to someone coping with grief. Maybe you’ve been tempted to say, “I know how you feel.” The reality is, no, we don’t have any idea how they feel. Even if we have lived through similar circumstances, everyone is unique, and so is their journey through grief.
Another almost default phrase is, “I can’t imagine what you’re going through.” Sadly, this can make the grieving person feel isolated and even more lonely.
So how can we offer compassionate, kind words, that recognize the uniqueness of someone’s situation while drawing them into a conversation that demonstrates your empathy? Try using a phrase like:
- “In a situation like this, I bet that a lot of people have told you they can’t imagine what you’re going through. If you could get into their imaginations, what would tell them?”
- “I’m trying to imagine what this is like for you. What can you tell me that will help me better understand?”
Remember, too, that many of life’s changes can trigger a grieving period. In addition to the loss of a loved one, people can grieve the dissolution of a marriage, an empty nest, or even retirement.
Kindness and compassion is appropriate in every situation, and learning the best language to use can ease that situation for many. If you know someone coping with some of life’s challenges, maybe you can benefit from the tools shared in Ms. Florian’s article. And, as always, let us know if we can help.