What to Say Wednesday: Recognize What You Can’t Understand

What to say Wednesday 1Welcome to What to Say Wednesday! Here is this week’s tip on how you can support parents of loss…

Sometimes it is most helpful to acknowledge what you can’t understand. If someone has never lost a child, they simply cannot know the depth of the sorrow and the complexity of the grief, no matter how many second hand experiences they’ve observed. It’s okay to not understand. You can still support others.

It can actually be helpful to acknowledge your own limits by saying things like, “I can’t imagine what you are going through,” or “I know you still have a long road ahead.” By doing this, you are communicating that while you don’t understand, you know that it was a life changing loss, and you are giving the parents room to grieve. I remember several people who made statements like this to me and it really touched my heart. They were willing to recognize that our loss went beyond their scope of experience, and therefore, they didn’t pretend to know what they really couldn’t.

When you offer your support even when you don’t really understand, it shows genuine love. It shows that you are willing to learn, listen, and simply walk with someone along the winding road of grief. This is what parents really need. Not “experts.” Not “fixers.” Not “explainers.” Just friends who will stick with them through the pain.

Comments

  1. Adam Waller says:

    Yes.

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