Grieving People are Not Your Memory Vending Machine

“Tell me what you remember most vividly and what it means to you.”⁣

That was shared by a grieving person in our community, said to them by a support person.⁣

What a terrible thing to say to a grieving person. I want you to tell me your most precious memory right now and explain why it’s so important.

Grieving people are not obligated to share a memory with you whenever you ask. They aren’t a memory vending machine for you.⁣

We DO encourage our support people to ask questions instead of making assumptions about their grieving person. There is a jarring disconnect between a grieving person’s lived reality and the outside world. Instead of assuming or making guesses about what their life is like you can bridge the gap by asking questions.

However this does NOT mean that we’re saying you should interrogate them.

We’re talking curiosity, not command performance.⁣

There’s an important difference between asking for a memory and letting your grieving person know that you’re a safe person to talk to about their person – that you’d love to hear about them – if or when that’s something that they would like to share.

Remember, always let your grieving person lead. Just because your intention is to be supportive, what you’re doing might not feel awesome.

Pay close attention to how your questions are landing. Follow their cues. And check in to see how your support actually feels to them.⁣

You can say something like, “I’m trying whatever I can to help you feel loved and supported. I’m not sure if what I’m doing feels good to you or not, and I’d love to check in about it. I’m 100% willing to hear what helps you feel heard and supported and what maybe doesn’t help at all.”

Make it safe for your grieving person to tell you if something you’re doing isn’t helping. Demonstrate that you’re willing to receive feedback and adjust accordingly.

Just because you mean well doesn’t mean your friend receives it that way. Checking in to see how things are going is an act of kindness that goes a long way in providing the support you intend.
Your intentions are important, but it’s how things feel to the grieving person that defines how well this goes.⁣

Looking for more ways to support your grieving friend or family member? We got you. Here is our helper overview.

If you’re a grieving person looking for a safe place to share the truth about your experience – the good, the bad, the hopeful, and the horrid – The Writing Your Grief e-course and community is a supportive place to explore your whole new world. Writers meet each other just where they are, honoring each person’s unique loss, finding connection in shared experiences. Our next session starts soon. Spots fill up fast! Reserve yours now.

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