I observed a man interrupt a woman sharing her grief from the recent loss of her mother with a platitude.
Immediately the woman became quiet.
The man appeared pleased.
He thought he had helped.
I have seen this happen time and time again.
I have been on the receiving end of this “kindness”.
I say kindness because I believe the person is trying to help.
I become frustrated when this happens.
It takes courage for some people to open up verbally, expressing the pain they feel.
When a well-meaning person comes along, shuts them down with a platitude, it can lead to feelings of shame or embarrassment. It can lead to feeling “unsafe” in a place where safety was implied. It could prevent a person from opening up again.
I have seen many a well-meaning person jump into the middle of one’s grief in an effort to “comfort” them. I’ve rarely seen the recipient comforted.
The expression I see on the face of the supporter is often one of relief. Relief they are no longer in danger of bearing witness to pain that causes them to feel uncomfortable.
There’s a line in the song Breakeven by The Script. “No wise words ever stopped the bleeding.”
I know this to be true.
A good doctor listens to a patient before diagnosing or treating them. They ask questions; make sure the patient feels heard before making a recommendation. She doesn’t bandage a wound until it is ready.
The same goes for emotional pain. True compassion will allow the person to verbally bleed for as long as necessary. Even, if it causes discomfort.