Text messages approved by a psychologist to send (not send) a grieving person
Supporting loved ones during grief can be difficult because everyone reacts differently. Use these tips to show that you care.
Losing a loved one is crap.
There are no two ways about it. It can be difficult, heartbreaking, complicated, relieving, shocking, numbing or stimulating depending on the circumstances. In fact, grief can be a myriad of feelings and emotions on this list, or an entirely different experience, because grief is as unique as you are.
This complexity is one of the reasons it can be so difficult for those who are grieving but also for those supporting others during this time, especially if they cannot be with them or speak to them in real time.
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So what can you text a loved one who has lost someone to make sure they know you are there for them?
Body + Soul asked Chris Hall, psychologist and CEO of the Australian Center for Grief and Bereavement, for advice on what to say when you can’t be there in person.
Try not to dwell on finding the “right words”, because there aren’t any
âMy first thought is to do it! This is often a difficult thing to do and not being able to find the “right words” shouldn’t be an excuse to reach out to another person. “
âThere are no ‘right words’ that can ease pain, but people appreciate the effort and the awareness that others are thinking of them and the deceased,â said Hall.
Instead, he suggests that “if you don’t know what to say, you can say, ‘I don’t know what to say.’ Acknowledging the horror of the situation can help.
Use the name of the deceased
Although a person’s physical body is no longer alive, our memories, experiences, and their impact and influence on those around them, they still live on.
Their continued presence and importance can be recognized just by mentioning their name and it can be a very powerful way to support someone during this time.
Mr Hall says a message that can do this is: “I’m so sorry to hear about X”
Acknowledge their loss
While this sounds simple and straightforward enough, it is also vital in times of grief.
Here are some great starting points for a message:
- âDear x, I can’t imagine what you are going through right now. Know that I love you and that I will be there for you in any way possible â.
- âI’m so sorry that I can’t be with you right now. “
- “There’s nothing more I wanna do is hug you.”
- “I want you to know that I am thinking of you during this difficult time.”
Provide specific and practical support in your message
Sometimes the mental turmoil that grieving can create means making a simple decision or doing basic, difficult tasks. Providing practical and specific support can be very helpful.
âIn your messages, be proactive rather than providing vague offers of support. Many people are reluctant to ask for help, even when they know they need it, âsays Hall.
Here are some sample messages:
- âI’ll finish with a meal for you on Thursday. Do you have a favorite meal? “
- âAs soon as I finish working tomorrow, I’ll be done. Is there anything you need me to pick up on the way? ”
Send a photo
âYou might want to think about sending a photo of the deceased with your message. A photo alone or with yourself or the bereaved. Remember that death ends a life, it does not end a relationship.
Remember the anniversary of their death
Grieving doesn’t just end, it’s an ongoing, non-linear process.
Mr Hall says providing ongoing support to someone can be as simple as “putting a reminder of the date of death on your calendar so you can contact them on that anniversary.” Also remember to make contact on the birthday of the deceased. A simple, short message can have a huge impact.
What not to write
âSometimes remembering what not to say is just as important, if not more, than what to say when supporting someone in their grief. There are things that are not helpful, âsays Hall.
Not-to-write messages include:
- “I know how you feel” (because you don’t know it.)
- “It’s not so badâ¦ becauseâ¦” – it’s wrong!
- “They are in a better place”; “Think about the good times” and “at least now they are no longer in pain”.
Shona Hendley is a freelance writer and former high school teacher. You can follow her on Instagram: @shonamarion
Mr. Chris Hall is a psychologist and CEO of the Australian Center for Grief and Bereavement