There are various unspeakable losses that one might find difficult to talk about and some of them include death, abortion, adoption, miscarriage etc. These are some common examples of what normally affects most of us in our day to day life. Whenever someone loses a loved one they find it hard to pick up their lives from where they left it and this makes it difficult to carry out their normal routines. Another factor that will make the situation worse is the way neighbours and friends will start keeping their distance because they don’t know what to say or what to do to make you forget about your loss. They also fear that they might say something wrong which will make you more sad or upset. It’s not easy to talk to someone about an unspeakable loss but it’s worse if you keep quiet and say nothing.
Losing someone you love or close to you is something that typically affects every person and this makes it hard for us to do the necessary tasks. Unspeakable losses make one feel sad and lonely, lose his/her appetite, be lazy, isolate him/herself etc. As a friend, neighbour or family member to someone who has experienced an enormous loss, you need to know how to be supportive and helpfully respond. You are the one to help them get through the pain and grief and help them pick up the pieces and continue with their life. This article is here to give you some of the most effective steps on how you should talk about unspeakable losses; the steps are as explained below:
1) Cooling off
When you realise that a tragedy has affected your family, friend or neighbour, you will at first feel upset and shock. Your mind will be blank, heart rate will increase, you’ll feel confused and you might experience dizziness or nausea. It will be hard for you to accept what you’ve just learned and this makes it not easy for you to talk about what has just happened. The first step is to deal with your own emotions so that you can be strong enough to converse well with the person that is directly affected. Some of the things that will help you relax include yoga, meditation, jogging, taking a walk or talking to a close friend. Manage your feelings so that you can be in a better position to help the person in grief feel much better.
2) Focus On the Person in Grief
After you have cooled down the next step is to acknowledge the loss by communicating either in person, writing or by phone. This is where you let them know that you are there to talk to them whenever they need you. The person in grief is feeling sad, shocked and is in pain because of the loss itself. If you decide to keep away from them then it will not serve his/her needs but your own. During this hard time you should try to support, comfort, encourage and get involved. However, keep in mind that you need to choose the words wisely because if you use the wrong words then you might end up making the situation to be worst. Some of the words you shouldn’t use include “I know how you feel,” “things happen for a reason” etc. They are the ones who know what they are going through and telling them things happen for a reason won’t help.
3) Make the Conversation Simple
Nothing you say will make the pain and distress of a death better; try imagining what you would like to hear if you were in a similar situation. At the beginning, mourners don’t like hearing words of optimism and you can simply say sorry and be there for them. If you don’t know what to talk about just admit it and make the conversation to be simple. Acknowledging that you don’t know what to say will make him/her feel free talking to you and start opening up his/her feelings. When you find it hard to speak in person with someone in grief you can call or send a text message to let them know that they can count on you if they need anything. Make sure you don’t send a long message as it will not clearly help you to convey your message.
4) Pay Attention To The Person
Paying attention and listening is the most vital thing you need to do if s/he is willing to talk. Listen carefully without interrupting and answer his/her questions. Don’t tell them about how you lost your cat or dog but make them feel comfortable by listening and acknowledging their pain. There are various ways that human being normally manage distress and shock and one of the best ways might be listening and being there for them. Some people don’t know what to do as they’re angry, while others just want to drink so that they can forget about everything. If the death was sudden or caused by overdose, suicide or violence then you can talk about the dark side, that’s if both of you are up to it. Keep in mind that talking about it might make one or both of you cry, don’t hold back as it might express what words won’t.
5) Don’t Talk In Platitude
It is quite hard to comfort a grieving person especially if you talk with platitudes and telling them things such as things will get better, you are still young enough to have another husband or child, I know what you’re going through or it’s God will. These statements can be hurtful because they ignore and minimise the current pain of the person in grief. Platitudes are meant to offer comfort but they can’t acknowledge the pain of the grieving person. It’s, therefore, important to learn what platitudes are and what you need to do to avoid them. A platitude is anything that can make the pain of the grieving person to look like it’s wrong or unnecessary.
6) Share Memories
Most grieving people like to hear positive stories about the deceased as it comforts them and keeps their memories alive. This is a good way of understanding that the deceased is still emotionally part of our life and that’s why you need to share memories. If you knew the person who died, you can use stories, photos, emails or notes to share memories. But if you didn’t know the deceased, ask the grieving person to tell you a story or share his/her photos with you. Find ways that can help the bereaved to preserve memories e.g. writing letters, take charity runs, holding a remembrance gathering or even planting a tree. Let the bereaved know that you are willing to participate in any activity that will help in the remembrance of the deceased person. However, when sharing memories make sure you don’t go over negative stories that will make them feel worse.
7) Offer Your Help
Being there and offering to help is one of the best ways to be present for the mourner. Instead of disturbing the bereaved with questions such as “can I do anything for you?” try to find out what you can do for them. It is always helpful to take on ordinary tasks and offer to do something for them. You can decide to cook for them, play with the kids, shop for groceries and much more. If s/he wants to be left alone then respect their wish and give them space. Since people grief differently you can ask the bereaved if you can text and call them or if they prefer being left alone. You can buy them a bottle of whiskey and find a suitable place to drink together as you listen and tell them how sorry you’re about their loss. Pay attention what they have to say and make them feel comfortable drinking and talking about it. It’s not easy to fix a tragedy like this but the best you can do is sit next to him/her so they can feel comfortable and say what’s in their mind. It’s not bad to offer help but too much of it will mean that you don’t care about your own needs. Offer help but ensure it doesn’t make you feel burned out or resentful. Set your boundaries because people normally mourn differently and the person you are helping might have some emotional problems.
8) Check In On Them Regularly
Immediately after losing someone you’ll notice that most people are often surrounded by support and help but after a few weeks, they are left alone. It is always important to frequently check in and being there for the bereaved. Make sure you check in frequently, especially on anniversaries and birthdays. You can either call or go in person to talk to the bereaved. It will mean a lot to the bereaved if you will still keep in touch no matter how far you are or how busy you are. A grieving person usually needs a continuing caring and support from friends and family as it will help them feel grateful.