Is someone you care about going through an ending or a difficult transition, feeling sad or grieving? Are you?
Everyone experiences changes in life. With most endings and transitions -- such as job changes, ending of a relationship, or death of a loved one -- grief and sadness are a normal part of process.
Unfortunately, people experiencing grief and sadness are often given message that they should do so in seclusion. While in public, they're encouraged to hide their emotions, put on a happy face, get on with life, etc. This is mostly because rest of us are not comfortable with and don't know how to deal with grief and sadness in others.
Think about last time you had a conversation with someone experiencing sadness or grief. Once person started sharing his or her emotions, didn't you immediately want to offer encouragement, inspiration or a solution? Most of us do, and we believe we are being supportive by doing this.
But while we are busy fixing person's problems, he or she has just lost opportunity to be listened to. Telling his or her story and being listened to is vital during times of transition.
The following are some ideas to really help someone experiencing grief or sadness of a transition. Follow steps outlined below and you will be giving those you cherish a priceless gift.
If you are one experiencing an ending, grief or transition, share these ideas with your friends and family to create a supportive environment for yourself.
1. Listen Without Judgment. If your friend told you he lost a job, has financial problems or just ended a relationship, would you automatically assume it was his fault? And perhaps it was. However, even if your friend did cause change, pointing out who is at a fault does not make it any easier to bear. He knows who is at cause. Your contribution is to listen while trusting that he will own responsibility in time.
2. Listen Without Telling Your Story. When people are in transition, they need to talk about emotions, thoughts and concerns. It's possible you may have had a similar experience and have great ideas to share. But transitioning person is not ready for these just yet. He or she first needs to talk and be heard. No matter how close you are to person undergoing sadness or grief, it is not your place to provide unsolicited solutions or stop his or her pain. Share your experiences only if asked.
3. Handle Yourself in Face of Sadness or Grief. Emotions are not contagious. If someone is sad, there is no requirement for you to also feel sad. If you take on sadness of others, you take away their opportunity to experience their own feelings. If you become sad as a result of listening to grief, grieving person will immediately feel guilty and try to make you feel better. Listen to another's grief without taking it on and feeling it yourself.
4. Be Prepared to Deal with Your Fears. When listening to another's difficult emotions, you may experience fear. You may become afraid of someday having to deal with a similar situation and wonder how you will handle it. You may not want to hear what is being said because of this fear. If this situation were to happen to you one day, you would deal with it to best of your ability. Meanwhile, listening to another does not make it any more or less likely that something like this will happen to you.