Coping with grief seems an oxymoron. The idea of coping with deep emotional pain seems similar to a house coping with a hurricane.
It’s not so much coping as hoping to survive.
The Deepest Pain
The most painful emotions are those associated with loss, as with losing someone you love, but there are other painful losses as well:
- End of a friendship
- Spouse by divorce
- Your reputation
- Your health
But death eclipses them all. The two most traumatic types of grief are losing a spouse or a child.
The closest I’ve come to “hurricane level” grief was a stillborn child. He died in delivery and would have been our first child.
What Doesn’t Help
Caring people will offer their help. But they often make things harder through their unaware and unintended mistakes.
Here are three things that people did that didn’t really help us. These are things not to look for if you are looking for help with your loss and grief.
- People Who Wont Listen: they only want to tell you their story, to talk about their loss. They don’t listen, don’t really support you, they just assume that you will feel better by hearing about their pain and misery.
- People Who Ask To Help: This one is hard. Many people asked, “What can we do to help?” When someone is coping with loss, they can’t think, they aren’t thinking, and asking the question is just a burden. They don’t know what you can do. The people asking have the best of intentions, but ultimately, it’s a fruitless gesture. If you want to help someone grieving, take over food, go mow their grass, take their kids out for pizza, go do some cleaning if you know them well enough.
- The Wrong Messages: People will way things that are difficult to hear. Again, the mean well but often don’t really think about what is being said. Here are a few examples:
- “God loved your baby so much that he just had to have him for himself.”
- “Whatever you did to cause your baby to die, I’m sure you won’t do it again.”
- “Don’t worry, you can always have another one.”
- “You are young, there’s still time for lots of babies.”
- “God is testing you, to see if you are worthy.”
- “It’s time to stop grieving, get on with life”
Here is some advice about coping with grief.
Identify one good friend, someone who will listen and not weary of listening. Who will pitch in without asking what’s needed. Who refrains from empty words and cheap, hurtful advice. They will hold you when you cry, understand when you are sad, and make you laugh when you need too. They won’t judge you. They will just love you.
To be continued…