Support Others in Transition
Is someone you care about going through an ending or a difficult
transition, feeling sad or grieving? Are you?
Everyone experiences changes in life. With most endings and
transitions -- such as job changes, the ending of a
relationship, or the death of a loved one -- grief and sadness
are a normal part of the process.
Unfortunately, people experiencing grief and sadness are often
given the message that they should do so in seclusion. While in
public, they're encouraged to hide their emotions, put on a
happy face, get on with life, etc. This is mostly because the
rest of us are not comfortable with and don't know how to deal
with grief and sadness in others.
Think about the last time you had a conversation with someone
experiencing sadness or grief. Once the person started sharing
his or her emotions, didn't you immediately want to offer
encouragement, inspiration or a solution? Most of us do, and we
believe we are being supportive by doing this.
But while we are busy fixing the person's problems, he or she
has just lost the opportunity to be listened to. Telling his or
her story and being listened to is vital during times of
The following are some ideas to really help someone experiencing
the grief or sadness of a transition. Follow the steps outlined
below and you will be giving those you cherish a priceless gift.
If you are the one experiencing an ending, grief or transition,
share these ideas with your friends and family to create a
supportive environment for yourself.
1. Listen Without Judgment. If your friend told you he lost a
job, has financial problems or just ended a relationship, would
you automatically assume it was his fault? And perhaps it was.
However, even if your friend did cause the change, pointing out
who is at a fault does not make it any easier to bear. He knows
who is at cause. Your contribution is to listen while trusting
that he will own the responsibility in time.
2. Listen Without Telling Your Story. When people are in
transition, they need to talk about emotions, thoughts and
concerns. It's possible you may have had a similar experience
and have great ideas to share. But the transitioning person is
not ready for these just yet. He or she first needs to talk and
be heard. No matter how close you are to the person undergoing
sadness or grief, it is not your place to provide unsolicited
solutions or stop his or her pain. Share your experiences only
3. Handle Yourself in the Face of Sadness or Grief. Emotions are
not contagious. If someone is sad, there is no requirement for
you to also feel sad. If you take on the sadness of others, you
take away their opportunity to experience their own feelings. If
you become sad as a result of listening to grief, the grieving
person will immediately feel guilty and try to make you feel
better. Listen to another's grief without taking it on and
feeling it yourself.
4. Be Prepared to Deal with Your Fears. When listening to
another's difficult emotions, you may experience fear. You may
become afraid of someday having to deal with a similar situation
and wonder how you will handle it. You may not want to hear what
is being said because of this fear. If this situation were to
happen to you one day, you would deal with it to the best of
your ability. Meanwhile, listening to another does not make it
any more or less likely that something like this will happen to
5. Take Responsibility for Yourself. If you feel emotionally
full after listening to a grieving person, ask him or her to
stop sharing. Simply saying, "I care about you and want to
listen, but now is not a good time. Can I listen [give possible
time]?" will do the trick. Unless you let others know you are
not ready to listen, you are sending a message that could be
easily misconstrued. If you force yourself to listen when you
can't, the grieving person will sense your inability to be fully
present. He or she may interpret your "vibe" as a message,
something like: "Your sadness or grief is not ok. No one wants
to hear about it, not even me. Please put on a happy face." He
or she will likely shut down negative emotions to accommodate
you. This is not good for either of you, as it makes the grief
6. Allow Sadness. Emotions are not deadly. And unless your
emotions are of a clinical intensity, they cause no harm and are
a good and natural part of life. If you suspect clinical
depression or any other mental health issue, please get help
from a qualified professional. Most dark emotions, such as
sadness and grief, are just as natural and healing as joy and
laughter. Allow the person undergoing change to feel sad; it is
good for the soul. It's also his or her right.
7. Don't Determine the Time Limit on Another's Emotions. We
often want others to hurry up and get over their emotions so
that our life can get back to normal. It is not up to you to
determine when it's time for another to get over his or her
emotions. Emotions have their own time table.
If someone you care about is going through a transition and
feeling sad or grieving, simply listen. By listening you will be
giving him or her a vital gift.
If you are the one going through a difficult transition and
feeling sad, grieving, find supportive people to simply listen
Your relationships will be richer and fuller for the experience.
Your Relationship Coach, Rinatta Paries www.WhatItTakes.com
(c) Rinatta Paries, 1998-2002. Do you know how to attract your
ideal mate? Do you know how to build a fulfilling relationship,
or how to reinvent yours to meet your needs? Relationship Coach
Rinatta Paries can teach you the skills and techniques to
attract and sustain long-term, healthy partnerships. Visit
www.WhatItTakes.com where you'll find quizzes, classes, advice
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