Being overcome with grief is not unlike falling in love. It takes over you with the force similar to a thousand giant Talinja buses running you over.
Friend and family are always a huge source of comfort. But there are a few things that Maltese should try to avoid when speaking with someone who’s lost a person they love.
Here’s what people need to stop saying to people who are mourning.
1. Anything related to their loss at a social event
If you meet someone at the theatre don’t bring up how sorry you are that their mum/dad died. They’re out of the house to find some normality. Send them a message on Facebook when you get home. Tell them you didn’t think it was a good time to talk, but that you’re thinking about them.
Everybody’s got problems, no one who is grieving is ignorant of that fact. But if you’re a close friend of theirs and they say they’re having an off day, it’s safe to assume that it’s at least partly because they miss their loved one. Flippantly asking things like “x’ġara mela?” will come across as quite cold-hearted. Show them in some way that you know it’s related to their grief.
3. I’m sorry I didn’t message, I didn’t know what to say…
If a friend has lost someone and you’re unsure whether or not to send them a message – just do it. It really does give them comfort. Saying “I didn’t know what to say” makes them feel like you don’t care enough about them to spend ten minutes thinking of a message.
4. I messaged you ta, don’t know if you got it
Don’t be offended if your friend doesn’t answer your messages of condolences. And don’t be surprised if it’s just one or two words if they do.
5. Kemm ilek ma tidher!
Grief affects people differently, but for many it distinguishes their eagerness to socialise. Comments like “oħroġ naqra jaħasra” don’t help. They just make people feel like they’re not coping as well as they should be.
6. I know how you feel, my nanna died last year
Sometimes knowing other people have gone through similar experiences does help. Mostly though, it’s infuriating. The most common reaction from a griever to that statement is: “it’s not the same, now go away.”
7. Eat something marelli, you’re worrying me
Grief very often causes people to lose their apetite. It’s a very real symptom. Don’t make people conscious about it. Invite them over for dinner instead – most of the time they are looking for quiet forms of socialising anyway.
8. Ejja – you have to help yourself
If someone who is grieving has become withdrawn, more quiet, less likely to meet people – it’s because their heart is broken and they have no way of knowng how to fix it. Their daily struggle to try to find answers weighs them down on a minute-by-minute basis. Pressure from their friends to ‘get better’ will not help.
BONUS: Touching them
Yes, it’s natural to want to reach out and squeeze someone to show them you’re thinking about their pain, but some people – grieving or not – do not enjoy being touched. Read the signs.