What Not To Say When Others Are Grieving

I was 19 years old when I was faced for the first time with not knowing what to say when somebody has lost a family member. I had a one room apartment in the city in which I was attending university. At the beginning of the month, I used to go downstairs to the landlord’s apartment to pay the rent. A week prior, my landlord had been admitted to hospital. As I was paying my December rent that year, I casually asked if he was feeling better. His wife replied that he had died. For a moment, I was speechless. It felt like kicking myself for asking her. Then I must have managed to stutter some words of condolence, but feeling extremely ill-equipped for this situation. I know I wasn’t alone with this feeling of not knowing how to speak words of real comfort. Unfortunately, nobody teaches us what to say or do when loss occurs.

When I returned to my apartment, I wondered who to call and to ask for advice. My mom, who had lost her own mother when she was young, broke out in tears each time anybody spoke about death. Today, I know she carried around a lot of unresolved grief. So I decided to call my grandmother instead. She was close to 80 at that time, and had experienced many losses during her life. She told me she always made sure she had a bunch of fresh flowers in a vase next to the picture of my late grandfather. She suggested to do the same for my landlady, to buy her flowers. She also recommended to check if I could help by getting groceries or do other errands for her.

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My landlady and her husband did not seem to have a very loving relationship; in fact, I often wondered if he physically and emotionally abused her. I didn’t want to assume that she would put up a picture of her husband with flowers next to it, yet this seemed better than any words I could think of.

In fact, there are several things which are particularly unhelpful to the grieving person.

  • “Don’t cry”, “don’t be sad”, “don’t feel bad” and so on denies the grieving person to have their own feelings.
  • “Time heals all wounds” or “just give it time”. Time itself does not heal. It is what we do with that time that will help us complete the pain caused by the loss.
  • Comments in regards to the person’s age: “He had a long life” or “Be grateful you had her for so long”. No matter how old our loved one was, we have a right to miss them.

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  • “You can have more children” or “be thankful you have another son” or “you are still young, you can get married again”. How can we possibly compare one loved one to another, or substitute one child or partner with another? The loss is always experienced at a 100%.
  • Comments of a religious nature, like “she is in heaven / in a better place” or “God will never give you more than you can handle”. No matter what my beliefs of an afterlife are, whether my loved one is in a better place or not has nothing to do with the loss I am experiencing. “God gave me this challenge because I can handle it” translates to “I have to be strong”. offer-to-do-laundry

  • “You have to be strong for…” or “the living must go on”. Instead of allowing ourselves to feel and to grieve, we are asked to suppress our feelings.
  • “I know how you feel”. All relationships are unique. Even if you and the grieving person for example have both lost your mother, your relationship with your mother was unique and completely different than his or hers. This also applies when you are experiencing the loss of the same person. You both had an individual and very different relationship to the dead person.
  • “You have to keep busy now” or “you must stay active”. Keeping busy buries the painful feelings while you distract yourself with activities, but at the end of the day the pain is exactly the same.

You might now wonder what is left that is actually helpful to say to a grieving person. The unhelpful comments originate from feeling uncomfortable with another person’s emotions. Remind yourself that it is okay to feel unpleasant feelings. You do not need to “fix” anything, you just need to be present. It can also be very healing to cry. Here are a few suggestions:

  • If you know the person well enough you might want to offer them a hug. But be very sensitive whether this physical approach is welcome or not. Not everybody likes hugs.
  • Understand that people express grief differently. Don’t expect to see particular stages of grief. Some people might feel more emotional including angry. Others might withdraw because they have learned to grieve alone. Others might act as if they are just fine. Listen without judgment to their feelings.
  • A better alternative to “I know how you feel” is “I can’t imagine how you must feel” and then allow the griever to share how they actually feel.

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  • Listen. Listen. And don’t rush to hand over the Kleenex to stop the crying when the tears are flowing. Allow the grieving person to feel what they are feeling and to talk about the person they have lost and about their relationship. Hold a loving space. Refrain from making comments about yourself and your losses, or rushing the person to feel better. Be like a heart with big ears. There is nothing to do but to actively listen. Active listening means responding with facial expressions and sounds while you allow the other person to fully express their loss experience, including crying.
  • Every day tasks can be overwhelming when the grief is fresh. Lend a helping hand. Get groceries, cook food, do the laundry, do the gardening, walk the dog or take care of the little children.

Holiday celebrations are coming up and with them come unresolved grief. This time of the year can trigger great sadness for people. We might not be able to be with a wonderful loving family, because some of our beloved family members have passed on. So this can be a time of feeling loneliness and the pain of a loss.

That applies whether our family members have died or whether we have been estranged with them. You might also be of service to friends or family members when they are grieving an estrangement with somebody. Listen, non-judgmentally, to how they are feeling. You don’t need to fix it. It is also not at all helpful to commiserate with them and tell them what an awful person the family member they are missing was and that they are better off without him or her.

Some family members have brought so much toxicity into our lives that we had to opt for no contact with them, for example in the case of a narcissistic personality disorder or addictions. However, even though we might have made that choice for our own peace and well-being, we can still grieve that the relationship wasn’t “better, more or different”.

John W. James and Russell Friedman offer a way to achieve completion of all loss relationships with their grief recovery program. It’s an excellent program for death, divorce and over 40 other losses.

 

For individual sessions contact Angelika

Certified Grief Specialist, Belief Change Coach and Workshop Facilitator

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

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Connecting With a Loved One Who Has Passed On

One of the most powerful and deeply heart opening experiences is the PSYCH-K® Relationship Balance with a loved one who has passed on. In this process another person stands in for the soul who has passed. It gives the client an opportunity to deeply connect once again with a family member or friend who has crossed over and to say and/or hear what they always wanted to hear. The more intuitive the stand in happens to be the more touching the experience often is.

At the four day Advanced PSYCH-K® this November, we had several deeply healing encounters which involved bringing somebody in who is not in a physical body anymore. The experience often brings peace to the person who was left behind to continue this life. They might not have had a chance to say good-bye, or to hear what they always hoped to hear from their loved one.

This can also be a huge growth experience for the stand-in. The stand in person can experience what it is like to intuitively tune into the energy of the passed on person and to sense what needs to still be said. Some people are so good at surrogating for the passed on spirit that they can literally feel all the emotions and channel the energy and words from the other side.

 

Here are some testimonials from participants…

Carolyn:

“My Dad, Mike, died in September 2012, four days before my birthday, very quickly, within six weeks, from an aggressive multiple myeloma cancer. He didn’t like it, but he exuded great dignity and pride during this time. My mom and I speak to him often but lately I have had the wish to see him again and to hear him speak to me.

In preparation for this workshop, I already received different messages that my Dad is around. Just recently, my car died in the middle of nowhere, when I noticed a sign saying “Mike’s Auto Parts and Service”. It was a Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m. What was the likelihood of anybody being in the shop to help me? I called and the garage owner, Mike, was in his shop working on the car of his own daughter. This is just one message of several.

When James volunteered to surrogate for my Dad, my Dad saw his chance and jumped right in. That is exactly what he was like. And he would have picked a gentle soul like James to come through. James just went with the flow and intuitively channelled the perfect words.

The experience was very touching and moving. Love beyond Love. It was a Divine gift of love, a miracle, to hold and hug my dad and to feel his love once again. It was deeply moving to exchange words and emotions. When my Dad asked through James how my mom was and I said she is doing great, he said “Are you sure?” I again felt that this is exactly what he would ask. The words “I have faith in you,” which James spoke to me in my father’s place during the bonding part of the process resonated deeply with me and ties into what I have been focusing on lately to step into my full potential. The words “You are enough, “I said to my Dad were powerful and healing, spoken from love and truth, freeing him from error perceptions and opening the door for my Dad’s soul transformation and growth. And ultimately affecting the growth and change of all of us. Beautiful!

I feel that James and I gave each other a great gift. I had another chance to speak to my Dad and James was able to experience that we can all channel the energy of another person, whether on the earth plane or the spirit world.”

Carolyn and her dad MikeCarolyn and her dad

James stood in for Carolyn’s Dad Mike who passed on two years ago. This is how James experienced being the surrogate:

“Before we could even ask permission for me to surrogate for Mike, he literally “jumped in”. It felt like my knees got weak and I immediately had an incredible sense of love and joy in my heart. All pain in my own body dissipated. I had an overwhelming feeling that I was really looking at my own child who I hadn’t seen in a long while. I took a step towards her and was guided to hug her and hold her like she was my daughter. The facilitator stepped back and allowed us our moment of reconnecting. Our conversation just flowed easily and naturally but I cannot recall anymore than what I was guided to say to my daughter.

The facilitator muscle tested the belief points but they were all strong. So we proceeded to the bonding part of this process which gives both partners an opportunity to hear what they need to hear. Intuitively, I knew that Carolyn needed to hear her dad say, “I have faith in you”. The phrase just popped into my mind. I also felt that Mike needed to hear that he was enough as a father.

It was extremely touching to do this bonding ritual of using a whole brain movement and taking turns telling each other what we needed to hear. We cried tears of joy and happiness. I feel so honoured to have been able to allow Carolyn to connect with her dad again.”

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Aliesha:

“At the Advanced Psych K Workshop my intention was to work on myself with a focus on releasing the sadness that I hold, especially when it comes to my Father’s death.  I was 9 years old when he died and just 7 years old when he was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma Cancer.  I was very close to my Dad when he died, I was ‘Daddy’s little girl’ and so his death was especially traumatic for me.

I only had to look at Andrew, who was surrogating for my Dad, Ward and I started to cry.  Andrew had similar facial features to my Dad.  I can’t put into words the way Andrew looked at me, I was looking at my Dad.  When the facilitator muscle tested both us, my Dad was strong and I went weak.  I had many weak points and that didn’t surprise me.  His death has had a huge impact on my life.  Each time I turned to face my Dad I started to cry.  I could just feel how much I missed him.  What was interesting though, as we balanced the statements, I could feel myself starting feel better, stronger, lighter somehow.  When it came time to the statements, I was to come up with both of them.  In the moment, there were so many things to say but only a few came to mind.  ‘I miss you so much Dad’ was mine and his was ‘I wanted to be here for you, I never wanted to leave’.

I never felt like I had the opportunity to say goodbye to my Dad, and I always felt that if I was somehow different, he’d still be here.  So to hear those words from him, I was touched beyond words.  The best part though, I got to hug him and what a beautifully long hug!  At that point we just exchanged words and I said, “I know I have to let you go, but I don’t want to.” And that’s when he said “I love you, I’m always with you; you’re always in my heart and just look inside your heart, that’s where you’ll always find me.”

This experience was incredibly touching for me.  It’s easy to try and tell yourself something consciously, it’s another to experience how deep the wounds go and how light you can feel after.  I don’t know how to put into words how I felt after, except lighter, more compassion for myself and faith that he’s still with me, still my Dad and I don’t feel nearly as sad.  I am deeply grateful for the experience and would do it again in a heartbeat!!“

 

A relationship balance can shift a relationship to one which is free of triggers and more loving, or it can bring closure to a relationship.

To do a PSYCH-K® Relationship Balance or a Shadow Energetics Relationship Alignment with somebody who is still alive or who has passed on contact

Angelika

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

905-286-9466