SUPPORT OTHERS in TRANSITIONS  - written by Rinatta Paries **

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Is someone you care about going through an ending or a difficult
transition, feeling sad or grieving? Are you?
Everyone experiences changes in life. With most endings and transitions -- such as job changes, the ending of a
relationship, or the death of a loved one -- grief and sadness are a
normal part
of the process.

Unfortunately, people experiencing grief and sadness are
often given the message that they should do so in seclusion. While in
public,
they're encouraged to hide their emotions, put on a happy face, get on
with
life, etc. This is mostly because the rest of us are not comfortable
with and
don't know how to deal with grief and sadness in
others.
Think about the last time you had a conversation with someone experiencing sadness or grief. Once the person
started
sharing his or her emotions, didn't you immediately want to offer
encouragement,
inspiration or a solution? Most of us do, and we believe we are being
supportive
by doing this.
But while we are busy fixing the person's problems, he or she has just lost the opportunity to be listened to.
Telling his
or her story and being listened to is vital during times of
transition.

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The following are some ideas to really help someone experiencing the grief or sadness of a transition. Follow the
steps
outlined below and you will be giving those you cherish a priceless
gift.
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If you are the one experiencing an ending, grief or transition, share these ideas with your friends and family to
create a
supportive environment for yourself & others around
you.
 
1. Listen Without Judgment
If your friend told you he lost a job, has financial problems or just ended a
relationship, would you automatically assume it was his fault? And
perhaps it
was. However, even if your friend did cause the change, pointing out who
is at a
fault does not make it any easier to bear. He knows who is at cause. 
(Your
contribution is to listen while trusting that he will own the
responsibility in
time).
 
2. Listen Without Telling Your Story
When people are in transition, they need to talk about emotions,
thoughts and concerns. It's possible you may have had a similar
experience and
have great ideas to share. But the transitioning person is not ready for

thesejust yet. He or she first needs to talk and be heard. No matter how
close
you are to the person undergoing sadness or grief, it is not your place
to
provide unsolicited solutions or stop his or her pain. (Share your
experiences only if asked).
 
3. Handle Yourself in the Face of Sadness or Grief.
Emotions are not contagious. If someone is sad, there is no 
requirement for you to also feel sad. If you take on the sadness of
others, you
take away their opportunity to experience their own feelings. If you
become sad
as a result of listening to grief, the grieving person will immediately
feel
guilty and try to make you feel better. (Listen to another's grief
without
taking it on and feeling it yourself).
 
4. Be Prepared to Deal with Your Fears.
When listening to another's difficult emotions, you may experience
fear. You may become afraid of someday having to deal with a similar
situation
and wonder how you will handle it. You may not want to hear what is
being said
because of this fear. If this situation were to happen to you one day,
you would
deal with it to the best of your ability. Meanwhile, listening to
another does
not make it any  more or less likely that something like this will
happen
to you.
 
5. Take Responsibility for Yourself.
If you feel emotionally full after listening to a grieving
person, ask him or her to stop sharing. Simply saying, "I care about you
and
want to listen, but now is not a good time. Can I listen [give possible
time]?"
will do the trick. Unless you let others know you are not ready to
listen, you
are
sending a message that could be easily misconstrued. If you force
yourself to listen when you can't, the grieving person will sense your
inability
to be fully present. He or she may interpret your "vibe" as a message,
something
like: "Your sadness or grief is not ok. No one wants to hear about it,
not even
me. Please put on a happy face." He or she will likely shut down
negative
emotions to  accommodate you. (This is not good for either of you, as it

makes the grief last longer).
 
6. Allow Sadness.
Emotions are not deadly. And unless your emotions are of a clinical intensity, they cause
no harm
and are a good and natural part of life. If you suspect clinical
depression or
any other mental health issue, please get help from a qualified
professional.
Most dark emotions,  such as sadness and grief, are just as natural and
healing as joy and  laughter. (Allow the person undergoing change to
feel
sad; it is good for the soul. It's also his or her right).
7. Don't Determine the Time Limit on Another's Emotions.
We often want others to hurry up and get over their emotions so
that our life can get back to normal. It is not up to you to determine
when it's
time for another to get over his or her emotions. (Emotions have their
own time
table).
 
If someone you care about is going through a transition and feeling sad orgrieving, simply listen. By listening you
will be
giving him or her a vital gift.
If you are the one going through a difficult transition and feeling sad, grieving, find supportive people
to simply
listen to you.
Your relationships will be richer and fuller for the experience.

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