Words of Compassion
In prior blogs, I focused on the compassionate heart and healing. As we open to listen to our grieving friends and relatives, we help them heal. But what should we say? What words of compassion will support them?
Years ago when I was grieving over the death of my beloved schnauzer, Emrys, I realized how difficult it was for my relatives and friends to offer me words of comfort. Perhaps they were afraid to affirm my pain - thinking it would make it worse.
As I moved through the grieving experience and discovered the inner strength to love again, I gained a tremendous understanding of the difficulties we all share in the area of grief - whether it's the one grieving or the one who is trying to help someone grieving.
I often ask children how their friends and relatives are helping them through the grieving process. Most often they tell me that their close friends and many relatives don't know what to say, or what they say doesn't really help them.
I believe that's quite normal in our society. No one really trains us as to how to lovingly support people during the grieving process. It's natural to not want to see our loved ones suffering. And we live in a society that promotes doing anything to NOT feel pain. So how do we support others when they are grieving?
We Validate Them
Words of compassion are words that VALIDATE the grieving experience. We all feel better when we are validated, and grieving is no exception. In fact, it's one of the most powerful opportunities to really support someone. When we validate, we tell our loved ones that we understand they are going through a tough time. We are not specifically trying to make things better, or offer solutions. We just want them to know we truly care, and understand that they are hurting.
The grieving individual will process their grief in their own way. Speaking words of compassion affirms the experience the person is going through.
When I ask bereaved children what they would say to a friend who might be grieving in the future, they usually will tell me things like:
> I know you must really feel sad about the death of ______.
> I know you're feeling upset about the way ______ died.
> It's okay if you want to cry about______ dying.
> You must really miss _______. I'm sorry about what happened to him/her.
So in writing For The Love Of Emrys,, I created a book for children who are grieving in some way, and also for children who know someone who is grieving. Mystie, the Magical Dragonfly is the character who embodies the compassionate heart. She listens to Christina, who is grieving over the loss of her beloved pet, and speaks words of compassion and comfort. It's the love in Mystie's heart, and the compassionate words that flow from it, that help the little girl move through her grief.
I would like to think that we can all be like her!
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