I Did Not Know What To Say Blog

Archive for July, 2009

The Gift of Listening

Posted by ididnotknowwhattosay on July 26, 2009

After the loss of a loved one, there is nothing more important you can do for a friend than being a good listener.  Listen to their grief, their fears, their stories, their joy and all the emotions that come with grieving over the loss of a loved one.

But what does it take to be a good listener?

To truly master the art of listening one must approach each situation with an open heart and mind.  Each relationship and situation is unique and requires us to find that place within our hearts to open up and allow another person to fully express themselves. 

Often we are in a hurry to get to the next appointment, anxious to speak our own view point or have too many “other’ things on our mind that we fail to pay attention to the person right in front of us.  We must overcome our natural desire to be the one talking and just allow the other person the opportunity to freely express their emotions without interruption.  Sounds easy enough… so why is it so difficult? 

Why is listening so hard?

  • When it comes to grief, it may be difficult to hear the sadness your loved one is going through
  • You may be drawn to try to “fix” their grief instead of allowing them the space to naturally go through the normal stages of healing
  • It is often difficult to give up our own beliefs and opinions on how “grief” should be expressed
  • Life can be hectic and it is difficult at times to focus our attention on one person
  • Some times we are just too tired to listen 

Tips on becoming a better listener…

  • Focus your attention on the person – not on the million other things that you could be doing.  And yes, turn off your cell phone!
  • Allow the person to express their feelings without interruption
  • Be willing to make a connection and have an open heart
  • Body language – observe facial expressions, tone of voice, eye contact, and hand gestures – is their body language congruent with what they are saying?
  • Listen to both the Facts and the Feelings in what the person is saying
  • Use open-ended questions that allow the person to express their feelings rather than questions that lead to a yes or no answer. “How does that make you feel? Can you say a little more about what upset you?
  • In your own words, paraphrase what the person has said to you to ensure that you understand.  Be genuine and avoid sounding “clinical” or impersonal.
  • Listen to how things are being said and what is not being said
  • Own and express your personal feelings by using “I” statements
  • Listen to your intuition.  What is your inner voice telling you?
  • Be honest.  If you are not in a place that you feel you can listen, let your friend know that you love them but at that moment you are not able to fully be there for them.  Try to make plans to meet with them at another time when you feel you are able to make a connection and are free from other distractions.

Allowing a loved one the space to freely express their feelings at a time of great loss can be very therapeutic and can assist them in restoring balance in their life.  

Never underestimate the value of being a good listener.

© 2009 Lori Pederson
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it:  Lori Pederson, Founder of I Did Not Know What To Say, a website built to inspire and to provide you with tools to assist a love one through the grieving process.   If you would like our free newsletter on how to assist your friends and family members through the journey of restoring balance in their life after the death of a love one, please visit our website at www.ididnotknowwhattosay.com.

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Posted in Grief Resources, Inspiration, Thoughtful Sympathy Gifts, What to do for someone that is grieving | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

What NOT To Say to Someone That Has Lost a Loved One

Posted by ididnotknowwhattosay on July 6, 2009

Knowing what not to say can be just as important as finding the right words to comfort a loved one when they are grieving.  Many of the following sayings might seem on the surface to be the right thing to say; after all you have probably heard them said at a funeral.  However, to a person grieving these saying encourage them to deny their true emotions and can be offensive.   

Here are a few to try to avoid:

  •  Keep your chin up
  •  You must feel like an orphan now
  •  If you were more religious these things would not be happening to you
  • You poor thing, life will never be the same
  • Things are really going to be awful for you for awhile
  • (name of person) would not want you to be upset
  • You are young; you can always have another child
  • You have other children to keep you busy
  • You can always get remarried
  • Crying and being depressed will not bring your loved one back
  • Don’t be sad, they are in a better place now
  • Oh its just an animal, you can get another one
  • You must have a dark cloud over you with all these bad things happening
  • How do you think your loved one would feel if they saw you like this?
  • Your loved one passed away so long ago, why are you still upset?

One of the most important things to remember when you are trying to comfort a friend that has lost a loved one is to not diminish their feelings.  The person that has passed away may be out of pain and onto their next journey but it does not change the normal grieving process for the individuals that are still among the living.  It is important to remember that grief is normal and it is very important that your loved one does not deny their sadness or try to put on a happy face to make everyone else feel better.  Denying these emotions can have a long term effect on their well being.  

You may become uncomfortable when watching someone go through the deep emotional pain that can occur during the grieving process.  However, part of being a good friend means you allow the person to feel the full range of emotions that the grieving process brings – both the celebration of the person’s life and the deep feelings of loss and loneliness that come from losing a loved one.   By allowing the grieving process to take its natural progression you will assist your friend reach a sense of balance in their life. 

The best thing you can do is keep it simple, keep it sincere, and keep it heartfelt.   Not sure what to say… why not start with asking yourself this simple question… What would you like someone to say to you if you lost a loved one?  

Still not sure what to say, visit our website at www.ididnotknowwhattosay.com for thoughtful ideas. 

Remember to…

Hug them, Love them, Show up and Listen.  You will do more for your friend by showing up and listening than any words can ever say. 

Let us know if you have anything to add to our list.  Sometimes knowing what not to say is just as important as knowing what to say. 

Kind words can be short and easy to speak but their echoes are truly endless.  ~Mother Theresa

Lori

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© 2009 Lori Pederson
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it:  Lori Pederson, Founder of I Did Not Know What To Say, a website built to inspire and to provide you with tools to assist a love one through the grieving process.   If you would like our free newsletter on how to assist your friends and family members through the journey of restoring balance in their life after the death of a love one, please visit our website at www.ididnotknowwhattosay.com.

Posted in Grief Resources, What Not To Say, What Not to Say to a Grieving Loved One, What to do for someone that is grieving | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Happy 4th of July!

Posted by ididnotknowwhattosay on July 4, 2009

A Happy 4th of July to everyone in the US.

Remember today all the people that have died to keep us all free!

Posted in Gratitude | Leave a Comment »