It needs to be heard without criticism or judgement, without advice or intellectual comments.
Grief is an insubordinate emotion. It doesn't follow rules and it can't be told what to do. It also won't be ignored.
So we need to address it, but not in the usual fashion. We can't continue doing the things that we have always done because that's all we know. The awkwardness we create because we fear the unknown, is no longer an acceptable way to comfort our grievers. We need to learn that we don't need to have the right words or all the answers but rather learn to validate our brothers and sisters in their pain.
Here are 5 ways that we can validate someone in their pain without hurting their hearts any further.
Don't underestimate the power of your presence ~ When in doubt, just show up. It doesn't have to be a huge event. Just being there, being a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen is profoundly validating.
Know the power of your silence ~ You don't have to have an answer and you don't even need some amazing thing to say. Listening to a griever without judgement or criticism is a beautiful way to help them express their feelings. No comparing, no advice... just listen.
Learn to reframe ~ Repeat what they just said in different words. Doing this allows the griever to know that you are truly paying attention to their words and feelings.
Avoid giving advice ~It's neither needed nor wanted in those moments. Often times our "advice" can make the griever feel bad about their feelings or like they are doing something wrong because they don't fit into a perfect grief box.
Focus on feelings NOT facts ~ Hearing that someone is no longer in pain, does not make the grieving heart that still wants them here, feel any better. Agree when they say things like "this sucks". Their feelings are real, they are valid and your agreement helps the griever feel just a little less overwhelmed or crazy.
So to help our friends, family or even ourselves heal from grief we must remember to validate the pain. Validation is an extraordinary gift and one that we can easily give.