Condole with care
By Shivi Verma
Shivi Verma says that the bereaved don’t need our ‘gyan’ to cope with their loss. Instead, they need our understanding and support
Nobody can avoid
suffering on Planet
Earth. There is hardly
anyone who has not experienced some crippling or devastating loss of some kind. While we have answers to difficulties and challenges, we don’t quite know how to deal with losses, especially of the permanent kind. Like the loss of a limb or a loved one.
At such times, verbal consolation isn’t of much help, and if uttered unconsciously, can inflict a much deeper wound than what the person is already suffering. Most people grapple with guilt and self-blame in such cases, and saying anything careless can be extremely detrimental to them in the long run. A woman lost her husband and the father of her two young children to COVID in 2021. He was quarantined at home, and she did her best to save his life. The family didn’t take him to the hospital as everybody around them convinced them not to. (There were no beds, the staff was badly infected, and oxygen was in short supply.) They said that he had a better chance of survival at home. But, sadly, he couldn’t be saved. A visitor who came to offer condolences to the bereaved family said something so thoughtless that instead of giving solace, it further compounded the grief of the widowed wife.
The visitor said, “Maybe if you had taken him to the hospital, he would be alive today.” The woman is now getting therapy and emotional counselling to heal her guilty conscience.
This apart, even sagacious people have difficulty expressing themselves when faced with such situations. I think the best thing to do when going to offer condolences is to first sit down in deep prayer before God. If possible, sit in meditation and try to connect with the soul of the departed. Ask them if they have any message to convey to the bereaved family. If it is not possible to do so, then ask God or your spirit guides to guide you on what to do or say, so that the surviving family members feel held and supported.
The bereaved are badly missing the departed soul. They know that he/she will never come back. If you have to say anything, only say good things about the departed. And never ever bring up your own loss of a similar kind while dealing with grieving people. It’s cruel. They need to be heard and not be forced to give you a patient listening.
Also don’t give them any lecture on how they need to be brave and strong as they have responsibilities to deliver. The time will come
for such things. But, initially, give them space, understanding, patience, and kindness. They need time to grieve, lick their wounds, and come to terms with their loss before they gird up their loins to face life once again.
Another good way is to take a good motivational book with you and leave it silently with them. They may not be ready for any pep talk, but a time will come when they will open up to life and need encouragement. Books like One is Not a Number; Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do; Laws of the Spirit World; Contagious Optimism; and Hide Your Goat can act like a ray of sunshine during gloomy times, giving the shattered person enough courage and faith to put the pieces of their life together.
Also, find ways to physically support them in their hour of need. For instance, you can help with their insurance and bank deposit claims, or babysit while they are in a dark space. These actions will go a long way in restoring their faith in the inherent goodness of life.
Editor of Life Positive, Shivi Verma is a devotee who found all her answers in loving God passionately.
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