My sister sent me a link to a blog that has been very helpful to her. It's GriefMinister.com and is the blog of Larry Barber. He recently wrote about "Six Questions To Ask Yourself Before Comforting a Mourner. You should read the entire post. Here are Larry's six questions:
- Is what I am about to say going to comfort, encourage or help the mourner? Or is it just something that will make me feel more at ease or comfortable in the situation?
- Is what I am about to say something that would be comforting to me if I were in the mourner’s shoes? Or is it just something that will make me sound insensitive or uncaring?
- Is what I am about to say something that will help the mourner walk through this dark time in their life and to find their direction through grief in a healthy way? Or is it just something that tries to “fix” or “rescue” the mourner or to “explain away” their need to hurt so badly in the ways that they do?
- Is what I about to say something that the mourner can hear and understand that someone does care for them and what they are going through? Or is it just a glib, trite response to the person’s grief which will probably be drowned out by the deafening pain they are currently experiencing?
- Is what I am about to say something that will bring the both of us closer together as friends? Or is it possibly a painful statement that will come between the two of us and change our relationship?
- Is what I am about to say something that is strictly for the well being of the mourner? Or is it just something that will make me look better or feel better about myself?
Probably the most helpful part of Larry's post followed the six questions when he said this:
If you are about to say something that is life-changing, inspirational and unbelievably profound, it’s probably better to just keep your mouth shut and just listen to the mourner. Mourners are not interested in knowing how eloquent or wise you may be. Mourners are interested in knowing that you are there for them, that you will listen to them, that you will not judge them, that you will not give them unsolicited advice, and that you care.
If you have gone through significant loss, what else would you add to this advice?