Tim Laurence, a journalist and psychotherapist, has written a very insightful article where he discusses how much it’s really possible to help someone who’s grieving. He argues that it’s very important for us to be very careful what we say to people dealing with personal pain — the empty phrases we’re accustomed to offer can often hurt rather than help them despite our best intentions.
Tim himself knows what he’s talking about, having suffered huge personal loss at a young age. We think his insights are therefore well worth considering. Take a look.
’…I’m listening to a man tell a story. A woman he knows was in a devastating car accident, and now she lives in a state of near-permanent pain; a paraplegic, many of her hopes stolen.
I’ve heard it a million times before, but it never stops shocking me: He tells her that he thinks the tragedy had led to positive changes in her life. He utters the words that are nothing less than emotional, spiritual, and psychological violence:
“Everything happens for a reason.”
He tells her that this was something that had to happen in order for her to grow. But that’s the kind of bullshit that destroys lives. And it’s categorically untrue.
After all these years working with people in pain as an advisor and adversity strategist, it still amazes me that these myths persist despite the fact that they’re nothing more than platitudes cloaked as sophistication. And worst of all, they keep us from doing the one thing we must do when our lives are turned upside down: grieve.
Here’s the reality: As my mentor Megan Devine has so beautifully said: ’Some things in life cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.’
Grief is brutally painful. Grief does not only occur when someone dies. When relationships fall apart, you grieve. When opportunities are shattered, you grieve. When illnesses wreck you, you grieve.
Losing a child cannot be fixed. Being diagnosed with a debilitating illness cannot be fixed. Facing the betrayal of your closest confidante cannot be fixed. These things can only be carried.
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