Start Talking

Start talking today with friends and colleagues about things that really matter. You’ll be amazed at how quickly and deeply you connect.

Sharing a loss encourages your healing, while allowing another person to express him/herself also. The more we talk about our feelings, the more we create opportunities to heal.

Talking about a difficult time you’re experiencing allows you to physically get the feelings out, and it can often lead to clearer thinking for you or problem solving together.

Ask for help. This is something that is almost taboo in our culture. Glenys Carl’s son was mugged in Australia and in a coma. When she went to see him, she was alone in a foreign country and knew no one. She needed help so she literally started knocking on doors and handing out flyers. Three hundred people volunteered to help her. (She now has a non-profit agency to match volunteers with people in need.)

If you absolutely, beyond a shadow of a doubt can’t ask for help, at least accept it when it’s offered. I find that people want to help but they don’t know what to do. Be specific. Make a list so that when someone offers, you can check your list and ask them to do your laundry or take the dog for a walk.

Some ways to start conversations:

“Do you have brothers and sisters? Are your parents still alive?” If they are find out where they live, what they do, how they are. If they aren’t ask what happened to them, how long ago, how the person dealt with the loss, and how they deal with it today.

If you know of a specific incident the person is going through, address it. “I’m sorry to hear about your (fill in the blank)—death in the family, divorce, car wreck, lost dog, grown child moving back home, etc.” (I don’t mean to imply that these things are equal—they’re just various examples.) “What are you doing to take care of yourself? How do you handle the stress day to day?” If we heard about something positive in a friend’s or colleague’s life we would mention it in a heartbeat–birth in the family, marriage, new puppy, graduation, or even a new car.

We all experience losses and grief. It’s just part of life. Sometimes the best gift you can give someone is just to listen. It seems the more intimate the story and the more vulnerable the person, the more intrusive it is to respond with a story of my own. There’s a fine line of whether I’m going to be perceived as sharing or competing. In these circumstances I ask myself whether my story will bring us closer together or further apart. Will it show that I understand what he’s saying or simply be a distraction? When you start sharing feelings, you’ll become more sensitive and know when to tell your own story.

If you’re just not at a point where you can talk about your loss, another way to relieve your stress and explore your inner feelings is to write about it. Be fearless in your writing. This is a place you can easily explore the conflicting emotions of grief.

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