The topic of how to greet a grieving person came up again this week. My client said, “I wish people would stop asking, ‘How are you?’”
I wish they would too.
The role of the grief-adjacent
You, as someone in the role of the grief-adjacent, are called to activate intuition and heart.
You’re there to support. Not to fix or heal. You are there to simply be. Be the safety, the grounding. Reflect the words you hear being said back to the griever. Let them know you’re listening.
Grief is an emotional inside process for the grieving.
And then what?
What do we say if we don’t ask, “How are you?” When greeting someone who’s gripped in grief try these greetings:
- I am so relieved to see you (at the office today).
- It is good to see you.
- I am so grateful to see you.
Please don’t add wounding to the wound with, “I can’t imagine what you are going through.” That’s about you. Not the one suffering. We don’t care what you imagine.
You can try these statements instead:
- I love you. I’m happy to hang out with you or whatever you want.”
- On a scale of 1-10, how are you at this moment?
- How are you coping?
- How’s your day been so far?
Also, consider sending a text or writing a card:
- “This holiday must be so hard without ___.”
- “Wish I were there to hug away your pain, if only for a minute.”
- “Sending loving thoughts to enfold you as you mourn the absence of ______.”
- Thinking of you at this moment. May I call you on Sunday to check-in? Then, if the person says yes, follow through on your promise to call. Say, “Hi, just calling to check-in as I said I would. How is your grief right this moment?” or “What have you been doing today?”
Remember, you are there to support them emotionally. To listen to their confused thoughts. To know that their physical self may no longer feel like themselves. You are the love and the light that simply shows up to BE with them.
I’m curious about what you think. What did this message bring up from within you? Please reply and tell me. Even if it’s only to say, “Georgena you are full of it when you say____.”
Remember we learn from each other. You are my teacher!!
Love all around, above, below, to the left and to the right, before you and behind you,
P.S. If you are a grieving person that dreads “How are you?” then forward this to everyone who’s asking.
If you know someone who’s grieving, consider sending them a virtual gift basket.
PPS: I also lead training at companies on “How to be with a grieving person in the workplace.” Your referrals are appreciated.