Today we’re talking about grief, how to support people in emotional pain, and what to avoid saying to someone that’s grieving.

When a person is sad and has dealt with a loss of some sort, it can be very painful for them to try to cope with and manage their feelings. It can also be quite difficult for friends, family members, and others around them to know how to show up and support them in this time of grieving. “What can I say? Should I check in on them, or do I just give them their space for a while?”

So often, these individuals feel at such a loss with how to help their loved one who is hurting, they sadly end up doing nothing at all. They don’t show up, they don’t call, and they don’t check in because they are afraid that they might say or do the wrong thing. It’s not that they don’t care about this person who is in tremendous emotional pain, but they don’t want to say something to this sensitive individual who is already hurting that might only make things worse.

What’s important to know is that there’s no “right thing” to say, and there are no magic words you can recite that will help take this person’s pain away. You don’t have to bring them any advice or wise words, and you don’t need to have any answers for them. You just need to show up with love, a listening ear, and an open heart. When a person that is hurting can feel seen and held where they are, as they are, they can feel safe and supported enough to take the steps forward (when they are ready) to heal on their own timeline.

Today, I want to talk about some of the things that are helpful to say to someone who is dealing with grief, but even more importantly, what things are not at all helpful to say. Sometimes we don’t realize that the words we say in an attempt to comfort someone we care about are actually causing more pain, because they were said to us at some point and just feel like the “norm.”

Remember, there is a world of grievers out there. We are all going through so much right now, and I guarantee you that if you haven’t already, you’re going to encounter someone who is dealing with grief. Let’s all take the initiative to sharpen our skills and learn how we can be there for others who are in emotional pain by giving them the dignity to feel what they feel without judgment or criticism.

With just a little extra effort, we can create a sympathetic and reassuring environment so that those who are grieving can feel safe enough to express their pain, process their feelings, and begin to heal the devastation, fear, and confusion that they are going through.

“The worst thing you can say to someone who is sad or hurting is, “I know how you feel. I went through the same thing.” A similar experience does not necessarily create a similar feeling. Feelings are created from within. They are a product of who we are, where we’ve been, what we’ve done, who raised us, what we experienced. There are so many things that go into our feelings, and everyone’s feelings are unique, even in the same situation.” – Paula Shaw

About Paula:

Image of Paula Shaw - Change It Up Radio with Paula Shaw - Episode 155: New Year, New You...Lighten Up! - Paula Shaw Counseling

Paula Shaw was Certified by the Grief Recovery Institute’s Program through Loyola Marymount Univesity as a Grief Recovery Specialist. She has been helping grieving people for over 28 years, using mind/body techniques to guide them through the discomfort of change and challenge, eliminating stress, depression, anxiety, weight gain, relationship distress, career challenges, a lack of energy, and self-destructive, addictive behavior.

These tools bypass the conscious mind–which is often rendered useless when emotions overwhelm us–and they work directly with the subconscious mind to shift problematic thinking, feelings, and behaviors that can result. Through these methods, it is possible to feel a sense of power and control in your life in a very short time.

Paula helps individuals regain successful lives by quickly identifying and eliminating self-sabotaging behavior and limiting beliefs by uncovering and addressing their core issues. Working with a wide variety of healing modalities, she provides her clients with the most effective processes for their specific needs. Because every person has unique challenges, this customized approach is critical to their success.

Paula is also the author of Chakras, the Magnificent Seven, which is a primer to the Chakra System and how to use it for greater health and healing, Grief… When Will This Pain Ever End?, which looks at loss and grief and provides practical, simple articles, processes, and exercises to help a grieving person move through their pain and back into joyful living, and her latest book, Saying The Right Thing When You Don’t Know What To Say, which is a guide to navigating difficult conversations that provides five steps to creating helpful, healing conversations.

If you are experiencing issues that feel overwhelming and you think that you might need help to overcome them, Paula offers a complimentary 20-minute consult that you can book on her website, or contact her at (858)-480-9234.

“Pressure is not what helps people heal, it just makes them feel more defective. And that’s the problem. When somebody is having difficulty moving on, they feel defective. They feel like, “Something’s wrong with me. Everybody else seems to get over things. But here I am, still crying, still hurting about this loss ten months later.” You’re not defective. You’re just going through your process – what’s been created in you, through the life experiences that you have had. Don’t let anybody tell you “time’s up.” You do what you need to do for you.” – Paula Shaw

Check out the video of this episode below:


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