Supporting Silent Grievers


supporting silent grievers

I received a lot of response on Facebook for my open letter to Silent Grievers.  This affirmed for me that so many people have been touched by some sort of loss associated with growing a family.  Everyone knows someone who has experienced infertility, miscarriage, fetal demise, stillbirth, etc. So I thought with so many people affected and so few people discussing it, maybe it was time to talk about what to say and do for those grieving.

So, what do you do? NOTHING.

Yes, you read that right, you don’t have to do anything.  Sometimes just being there, letting your loved one know you care, supporting them, and recognizing their loss is the biggest thing you can do.  Of course, you can still offer to bring a meal, or run an errand, but, sometimes doing nothing, is doing everything.  A hug, a look that says I recognize you are in pain and I empathize is the best gift a griever can receive.

Do we all know the difference between empathize and sympathize?

Sympathy: “harmony of or agreement in feeling, as between persons or on the part of one person with respect to another.” -You understand and can relate. 

Empathy: “the psychological identification with or vicarious experiencing the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.” In other words you may not understand, but you acknowledge their grief. (thank you

Despite the Hallmark cards, you want to show empathy not necessarily sympathy because everyone grieves differently and saying “I know exactly what you are going through and feeling” can be well infuriating and at best not so helpful.

This brings me to the ever so helpful list of top 10 best and worst things you can say to someone who is grieving.  You can find the list here.  This is a list made by David Kessler, an author, and leader in the bereavement community.

What is unique to those Silent Grievers?  Validation and affirmation.  RECOGNIZE their grief.  Don’t let them feel shame for grieving as much as they need for as long as they need.  Let them know you know their grief is as real and important as any other grief.  Show love it goes a long way.

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Supporting Silent Grievers

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I grew up in Orange County then went to Los Angeles (with a short detour in Santa Barbara) for college and spent the next 12 years there thinking that was home until I met my amazing, now husband on and moved back here to start our life together. I have a young son and daughter that are two years apart. They are thick as thieves and keep us laughing. I worked in Hospice care for 15 years and now I take Working Mom to a whole new dimension with a private mental health practice I worked hard with many jobs hustling for many years to grow my own business. I'm proud to say I'm helping people in my own office full time. The decision to quit my full time job working for some one else and to work towards creating much needed grief, trauma and self esteem support in Orange County fills my soul. I may not spend 24/7 with my kids but I plan to be role model to them and the time we have is all about quality not quantity. I'm working on a life/work balance but I find this is much easier when I love all aspects of my life and work and self.