Blake Snow

writer-for-hire, content guy, bestselling author

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Good to know: 4 mistakes we make when comforting grievers

I was moved by Adam Grant’s and Sheryl Sandberg’s Four mistakes we make when comforting friends who are struggling written for USA Today. So much so that I summarized the mistakes below for easy future reference:

  1. Encourage positivity instead of feelings. Time doesn’t necessarily heal all things, especially death. Research indicates asking how grievers feel improves welfare better than well-intentioned but frustrating calls to “chin up.”
  2. Insert your own story instead of acknowledging theirs. “When you’re faced with tragedy,” writer Tim Lawrence notes, “the most powerful thing you can do is acknowledge. Literally say the words: I acknowledge your pain. I’m here with you.” Never volunteer your own experience, even if you think it’s the same. If they want to hear it, they’ll ask.
  3. Give unsolicited advice. Instead of offering advice, simply say, “I wish I knew the right thing to say. I’m so sorry you’re going through this — but you will not go through it alone.”
  4. “Let me know if there’s anything I can do.” Don’t say this. Although often sincere, this phrase puts the burden on grievers. Instead of offering anything, author Bruce Feiler recommends, “just do something.” Invite them over for a holiday dinner. Make a playlist of songs that aren’t about joy or snow. Drop off a home-cooked meal. You don’t have to be best friends to help someone. Just do something without asking.