Out of focus lamp
Out of focus lamp (Miranda Hernandez)

Grief is hard in our culture. We don’t often talk about it, and when we do, we feel the need to try to explain:
“It probably happened for a reason”
“At least you didn’t get to know him”
“You must be better off this way”

I don’t think people realize these words can hurt. I know most people speak from the kindest place. And the griever is often asked to consider these kind intentions when words fall short. We certainly try.

I hear you when you say you aren’t trying to hurt me. I hear you, and I give you the benefit of assuming your intentions. Because I know it’s out of good intentions that you say these things to me. And I appreciate, if not your words, then at least your love. It helps so much that you love me.

I have a request, though. And I ask you (as you often ask me), please consider my intentions, and try not to take offense:

When a grieving person tells you a comment is unhelpful, absorb it. Learn and ask questions on what you could say differently. We aren’t trying to shame you; we are only trying to educate. We know you don’t intend to be hurtful, and we want to show you a better way. Grief is hard, and if I, in my grief, become your teacher in how to treat me, please listen. It should be a conversation. And your intentions shine the brightest when this conversation goes both ways.

~

Grievers are individuals. Grief is unique. So I can’t, in this letter, give you words that are universal. But if you want to know a starting point, a place that opens this conversation, some of the best words are also simple:
“I’m sorry”
“I love you”
“I’m here”

And for many, those words may be all you ever need.

Related:
Write Your Grief: The Nuclear Bomb
Write Your Grief: The Nuclear Bomb Part 2