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Posted 4 October 2011, 5:09PM

Have you ever been in that awkward and uncomfortable position where you see someone for the first time after they have lost someone they loved? Maybe you knew the lost a parent, a spouse, a sibling, a child or a precious friend? Maybe you didn't know at all and you are now speaking to that person and finding out for the first time? And just maybe, you find yourself feeling very uncomfortable, not knowing what to do or say, and wanting to get out of there as fast as you can?


Rest assured you are not alone. I have coined the phrase "People have been dying forever. Why are we so bad at this?" My personal experience has been that most people who talked to me after the death of my son were kind and empathetic souls. They desperately wanted to empathize and comfort me, yet it is so hard to know what to do at such a difficult and emotional time.
I thought I would share some of the wonderful support that I was given from people and hope that you might too. Yes there are many examples of people saying and doing things that don't help. Maybe through understanding what has worked for some we can find better ways to be there for people in our lives when they need us most.


We are all different so what worked for me does not necessarily work for others; supporting those who are grieving is very individual. The best approach, I believe is to be with that person, where they are, in that moment.


I personally found that the people who told me they knew exactly how I felt missed the mark sometimes. Rather, those who could say, I don't know how you feel provided some of the best comfort and support. The people who supported me best didn't ever make me feel like I should be getting over my grief or judge where I was or should be at on my grief journey. If I was having a good day they were genuinely pleased and when I was not they were there to listen. Some offered hugs which were a wonderful surprise in the workplace and there were no hard feelings if I couldn't accept them. I was always so grateful when someone would pop by my office and see how I was doing.


It was not always my co-workers who did this; some were relative strangers in my company who had a kindness and compassion for me and my loss. They didn't expect me to call if I needed help, but they made a point of checking in and offering to go for coffee or lunch. Some checked in before and after family holidays like Thanksgiving and Mothers Day just to see how I was doing and to let me know I was not alone. These remarkable people made such a difference in my life and none of them had to do any of it. I will never forget them as long as I live but I will try to learn from their compassion and skills and try to pass their kindness on to another who has experienced loss and needs to be less lonely at work.


How about you? What are some of your positive experiences?

Posted by: Jackie P.

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