Roughly only 14% of the comments made to grievers are actually helpful during the grieving process.
The majority of what a griever hears after experiencing a loss, are intellectual comments that tend to further break a grievers heart. Intellectual comments are comments that may make sense to the brain but are like a stab to an already broken heart.
How, when we are trying so hard to help someone, can we be doing more harm? The intellectual comments that so easily roll off the tongue is what we as a society need to become keenly aware of.
Here is a list of five intellectual comments to stay away from:
Time heals all wounds; Those that have attempted to use this bit of information can attest that time does not heal. One can simply not wait out a broken heart. Some have waited years and even decades to learn this. It's what you do with the time that will make a difference in the healing process.
I know how you feel; This comment negates the uniqueness and individuality of each person in relationship. Even if you have experienced the same type of loss, you can only know how you felt when your loss occurred.
He is in a better place, no longer in pain; When someone has suffered with a sickness for a long period of time, mental illness or battled and lost to addiction, we often hear this comment. The problem for most grievers, when they hear this comment is that even though their person may not longer be struggling, the grievers heart has only just started experiencing the pain of their loss.
Be grateful for the time you had together, don't feel bad; It's not that the griever isn't grateful for the time they had together, it's that they have just experienced a loss and can't help but feel sad. Grief is a normal and natural reaction to when going through a loss. Allow time for them to process their grief with out the implied expectation that they should show gratefulness instead of grief.
Everything happens for a reason; This may or may not be true for a griever based on their own spiritual beliefs. The problem with this comment is that it doesn't make a griever feel any better about the loss, in fact they may begin to wonder what's wrong with them because their mind and heart are battling each other.
We need to realize the power that our words hold. They are coming from a good place yet they can imply other unhelpful things to a grieving heart. We so badly want to help make someone feel better that we can unknowingly place our own belief system on them, say intellectual comments that are hurtful or add additional pain with words.
When in doubt of what to do: just be present, offer to be a sounding board, listen with your whole heart and don't try to take away the pain (because you can't). Validate their thoughts and feelings without criticism or judgement and be a shoulder they can lean on. Grievers need to be heard, not fixed.