Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What Do You Say?

I have been thinking about this post for awhile now, and I think I finally have what I have been wanting to say.

What do you say to someone who has dealt with a tragedy or difficult, unforeseen turn of life events?

Until a few years ago, I was one of those people who simply chose to not say anything.

I figured - they know what they are going through, and do not need to be reminded by me asking, "How are you doing?"
I knew I was there for them if they needed support, but I never said it out loud.

I think apart of me also felt that by bringing up the sadness, I was in some way mocking the person who was hurting, and pointing out that it was them that was experiencing this and not me.

I don't know if it's because I am older (duh) and have a little more life experience, but I know now that my mind set was completely and totally wrong.

Instead of keeping to myself and sending telepathic vibes to my hurting friend or family member, I know that I need to openly tell them, "I am sorry for what you are going through," quickly followed by, "I am here for you."

What else can you say?

After thinking long and hard about it, I really believe it is better to say something small, rather than nothing at all.

To you, your words may seem completely insignificant.  But, to the person who is receiving those words and encouragement - it may be totally uplifting and reassuring that they are not alone.

Thinking about what to say leads me to think and consider what not to say.

Along with my altered mind set, I am trying to observe how others around me respond and interact with those who have experienced a tragedy or difficult, unforeseen turn of events.

Do they choose to not say anything?  Do they express sympathy?

Or do they do something else entirely?

I have mentioned in previous posts that a co-worker of mine, recently lost his young son in a motorcycle accident.  His first day back at work was yesterday, and since I sit in the cubicle next to him, I have overheard the many conversations that have taken place between him and other employees.

I can't tell you how many times I have heard someone express sympathy, and continue on by talking about themselves and something they have experienced that is (or really is not) somehow related.

This has been driving me up the cubicle wall.

I really feel like standing up with a megaphone and telling these people, "This is not about youStop making it about you."

I feel like in these instances, these people are turning the grief around and focusing on themselves, instead of allowing the person who is truly grieving - to grieve.
Is that wrong?

Am I just being overly critical?

I just can't figure it out.

I don't want to sound insensitive by any means, because I know we all have our times and periods of grief.  I just feel like everyone should have their opportunity to grieve, without someone else coming along and trying to one-up them with their story.

And now I'm just word vomiting.

So, I would love to hear what you think about this.  After experiencing a loss or a difficult, unforeseen life change, how do you want the people in your life to respond?

Do you want them to stay silent and act like nothing has happened?  Do you want them to outwardly show sympathy?  Do you want them to share a story of something they have experienced that is (or perhaps is not) somehow related to what you are going through?

Take Luck,


  1. My response to this is so long that a blog comment wouldn't be ideal. I'm currently headed to bed but expect an email with my thoughts tomorrow!

  2. This post definitely makes you think about things! I do not think you're being overly-critical at all...there are always those that feel they need to be the shining star, or the center of attention. At the same time, I sometimes wonder if people launch into their own personal struggles to help the person grieving take their mind off of their own tragedy -- wishful thinking though, right?

  3. I agree with you completely. I feel like there are always people out there that turn everything back to themselves...some mean to while other don't. I've noticed when a few people I went to high school with died, many made it about themselves. I think some people are immature in their grieving process. Hopefully, someday they realize it's not about them. Great reflections LP :)


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