Editor’s Note: The following article is excerpted from the TEDx talk, “How to Comfort a Grieving Teen” by Bridget Park.
“I am so sorry that this terrible thing happened to you.”
“I am sure he is in a better place.”
“It was so selfish of him to do that, and everyone knows it.”
“One day you will see how this will make you a stronger and better person.”
All these things were said to me when I was grieving, but they were not comforting.
I’m Bridget Park and in 2008 my beloved brother, Austin, shot himself. I was only 12 when I saw his dead bleeding body on the floor.
Did you know that most of the things people say when they are trying to comfort someone do not comfort: in fact they make you feel worse?
Have you ever noticed, we don’t talk about death. It is the skeleton in the closet. No one wants to bring it out and so, we don’t know what to say.
What would have made me feel better? “Hi Bridget. I’m glad to see you back at school. I have so many great memories of your brother.” She acknowledged my lost without pity.
Then she said, “Hey what are you doing this week end.” She made me feel normal.
Or another way to comfort would be to simply give me a hug and say that you are there for me.
Think about the way you comfort someone. It can make a big difference on how they feel.
You can watch Bridget’s TEDx talk here and learn more about Bridget’s story in her book, Growing Young: A Memoir of Grief.
Photo credit: Andrea Rose