Learn how to support a loved one if he is experiencing misfortune.
“Grief is not talked about any more than sex, faith, and even the death that gave birth to it,” writes Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO, in Plan B; How to Survive Adversity, Build Up, and Start Living Again.
Sandberg survived her husband’s death with her children and was not afraid to honestly talk about it. She has gathered her experience and the results of research from psychologists to help thousands of people around the world cope with their own grief.
We are aware of the challenges of supporting a loved one with whom trouble has happened. Sometimes other people’s suffering hits us even more painfully than our own adversity. And very often, we cannot find the right words of consolation and keep silent. Here are some tips for you on how to properly support someone in distress.
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Even people who have experienced the most terrible suffering often want to talk about it. We need to be aware of two things when we’re hurt; our feelings are normal, and we have someone to support us. By behaving towards suffering people as if nothing happened, we deprive them of it.
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Basic greetings like “How are you?” hurt because the people who pronounce them seem to admit that something significant has happened. If instead, people asked, “How do you feel today?” It would show that they understand how difficult it is for a person every day.
Read also: 3 Phrases To Say Instead Of “Don’t Worry”
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Not everyone can talk about a personal tragedy with ease. We all choose when and where to do it and whether to do it at all. However, there is strong evidence that talking frankly about difficult events can positively affect mental and physical health. This conversation with a friend or family member can often help you sort out your own feelings and feel understood.
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When tragedy strikes your life, you usually find that people no longer surround you – platitudes surround you. Admitting it is the best course of action. Say the words literally: “I acknowledge your pain. I’m near”.
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Until we acknowledge the problem, it won’t go anywhere. By trying not to notice, those who are suffering isolate themselves, while those who could offer them support become distant. Both sides must go towards each other. Sincere words of sympathy are a great start. The problem will not go away just by your desire, but you can say, “I see. I can see how you suffer. And I care.”
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It seems natural that friends are always ready to support friends, but certain barriers prevent you from doing this. There are two types of emotional responses to other people’s pain; empathy, which motivates you to help, and anxiety, which makes you avoid its source.
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When we find out that a person we care about has lost his job, is undergoing chemotherapy, or is going through a divorce, at the first moment, we think: “We need to talk to him.” But then, right after this first impulse, doubts come to us: “What if I say something wrong? What if he is uncomfortable talking about it? Wouldn’t I be too intrusive? ”
Having these doubts entails excuses like, “He has many friends, but we are not so close.” Or: “She must be very busy. Don’t bother her again. ” We put off talking or offering help until we feel guilty for not doing it earlier … and then we decide it’s too late.
Those who turn away from you in difficult times try to distance themselves from emotional pain out of a sense of self-preservation. Such people, seeing how someone is drowning in their grief, perhaps think subconsciously – that they too may be dragged into this abyss.
Feelings of helplessness overcome others; it seems that everything they can say or do will not correct the situation, so they decide not to say or do anything. But you don’t have to do something extraordinary. Just going to visit a friend is already a lot.
There are many different ways to grieve and many different ways to comfort. What helps one person does not help another, and what helps today may not help tomorrow.
As children, we were taught to follow the golden rule; Treat people how you would like to be treated. But when someone near you is suffering, you must abide by the platinum rule: treat people how they want to be treated. Catch signs and react with understanding, or better yet, react with action.
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Concrete actions help because while not solving the problem, they nevertheless reduce the damage from it. “Some issues in life are unfixable. But they must be lived through, ”says psychotherapist Megan Devine. Even little things like holding a person’s hand can help.
Adapted and translated by Wiki Avenue Staff
Sources: Life hacker