What do you say to comfort someone dealing with enormous loss, like that in the Oklahoma tornado?
Most people don’t know what to say to someone who is heartbroken. It’s not their fault. They haven’t been taught what to say.
The Oklahoma tornado leaves a swath of destruction, including cars crumpled like soda cans and flattened homes. Less visible but just as devastating, the tornado destroys victims’ sense of safety and certainty, and leaves a wake of grief.
In the wreckage at an Oklahoma schoolyard, a mother is beside herself with anticipatory grief. Bursting into tears of relief, she scoops up her young son. He is safe. Others are not so fortunate. Many children and adults are dead. Thousands of people are shaken to their very core. Lives and businesses are in ruins.
What do you say to comfort someone dealing with enormous loss, whether from the Oklahoma tornado or another natural disaster or loss, such as a death, divorce, or bankruptcy?
Start by simply listening. You give an enormous gift by listening with caring and compassion. It is a relief to a grieving or heartbroken person to talk about their loss.
You give them the chance to share their grief over the death of a family member or friend. They might share their sadness over losing family photographs, a treasured family heirloom, or a pet. They might share their feelings of being overwhelmed at having to return to a devastated property and begin the process of rebuilding. They might share their financial fears.
When you listen without fixing, you are being a true friend. Be patient and allow people to vent their feelings. Don’t argue with a person’s feelings. Don’t interrupt to “problem solve.” Having a sounding board helps people discover their own answers and their own solutions.
• You’re not alone. You’ve got a support team, and I’m on it.
• I’m grateful that you are alive.
• It’s understandable that you’re upset. That’s a normal and natural reaction.
• I don’t know what to say.
• What specifically can I do to support you?
• Don’t feel bad.
• It must have been God’s will.
• It’s your fault. You should have…
• I know how you feel.
• It just takes time.
For more tips on what to say, you can watch a video here: http://www.GriefCoachAcademy.com/v1 — you can make a real difference to friends, family members, and your community by knowing the right things to say.