Empathy for Those Dealing With Grief

This article was written by BetterAdmin, on June 28, 2016

“How can I possibly help my sister after her husband passes away?”
“How do I show my best friend that I support and love her after she loses a child?”
“How should I talk to someone about the loss of their loved one?”
These and other questions may be plaguing your mind after someone passes away. You may not be mourning anymore, but what if someone close to you is still grieving? If you’re wondering how to show compassion and offer genuine help, take a look at these quotes about empathy.

“Empathy is the experience of understanding another person’s condition from their perspective. You place yourself in their shoes and feel what they are feeling.”

Empathy is very different from sympathy. When you’re sympathetic, you unintentionally place a value judgement on another person’s grief, and you disconnect their experience with your own. When you feel empathy for someone, there is no judgement involved, only connection and understanding.

“It is the urge to know more about ourselves and others that creates empathy. Through imagination and our desire for rapport, we transcend our limitations, freshen our eyes, and are able to look at ourselves and the world through a new and alternative lens.”
–Azar Nafisi


We seek to feel empathy when we want to understand someone’s pain and suffering. Since empathy is experiencing someone else’s feelings as your own, that means feeling pain and suffering ourselves. Why would we want to do this? Don’t we avoid pain whenever we can? Having empathy for another person means connecting with them, bringing yourself to the space that they’re in. When you allow yourself to accompany that person on their journey through grief, they no longer have to go through it alone. It’s a selfless act, and often, it is just what is needed.

“Fixing your loved one’s problem is not often what is needed, nor is it necessarily your job or even within your ability to do so. Sharing a listening, caring ear is something most people can do. When we feel heard, cared about, and understood, we also feel loved, accepted, and as if we belong.”
–Brené Brown

When someone you know loses a close relative or friend, there is nothing you can to do fix the situation. If you are looking to help someone who is mourning, listening and sharing in sorrow is the best way to show compassion and support that person. Brené Brown talks about how to speak with empathy—and rarely does empathy start with the words, “At least…” Empathy is not looking on the bright side or seeing the silver lining; when you do that you are trying to “fix” the problem. Empathy is recognizing pain and validating it as real and acceptable.

Read more about how to speak to someone using empathy in this article by Elliot D. Cohen, Ph.D.: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/what-would-aristotle-do/201505/how-be-empathetic

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