Monthly Archives: September 2014

The 8 Worst Things to Say to Someone Who is Grieving

When someone close to you dies, your world is torn apart. As a result, you’re as fragile as tissue paper, feeling as if the slightest breeze might shred you completely. Well-meaning friends may try to console you, but many of them wonder what to say.

“What if I blurt out something stupid?” they wonder. “What if I say something that makes her cry?”

I’ll admit that before I experienced grief firsthand, I, too, was at a loss for words. Now that I’ve been on both sides, I’d like to offer a few suggestions for what not to say to a newly grieving person.

1. “Cheer up. Your (loved one who died) wouldn’t want you to be sad.”
After my mom died, people told me that Mom would hate to see me carrying around such pain and that, to honor her memory, I should stop being sad. It’s true that I can’t think of a single time when my mom said to me, “I see that you’re super sad, and I think that’s awesome!”

Sure, Mom liked to see me happy, but for a period of time after she died, I simply couldn’t be happy.

When you love deeply, you grieve deeply. Grievers need to be sad in order to get to the other side of grief.

2. “Focus on all the blessings in your life.”
While this message is optimistic and all, it’s not really what a grieving person wants to hear when his world has just been shattered. I mean, I get that it’s better to concentrate on the positive than the negative. Nevertheless, even if a griever appreciates the good things in his life, that doesn’t change the fact that he’s reeling from a monumental loss. Therefore, when someone is newly grieving, he likely won’t feel like yelling from the rooftop, “Hey, look at lucky me!”

3. “She’s/he’s in a better place.”
Yeah, maybe. Heaven is, after all, supposed to be pretty spectacular. But here’s the problem: if my mom is there, she can’t be here. And I want her here. Call me selfish, but I want her here beside me, holding my hand, offering advice, giggling, singing, and doing that humming/whistle thing that only she could do.

And although I do believe that I’ll be reunited with Mom in Heaven, unfortunately that reunion requires that I die first. So, that’s a bit of a bummer.

4. “It’s been awhile since he/she died. It’s time you get over it.”
You know how a week zips by in the blink of an eye for you whereas a week, from a toddler’s perspective, feels like an eternity? That’s kind of how grief time works. It’s skewed. A grieving person can look at a calendar and see that “X” amount of time has passed since their loved one died, but time is irrelevant when it comes to healing a broken heart.

You can’t put a timetable on grief, and if you struggle to comprehend that notion, well, then clearly you have not yet mourned the death of someone close. When you do, you’ll understand and then feel ridiculous for ever having suggested that anyone should hurry up and “get over” losing someone special.

5. “Cherish all of the wonderful memories. They will bring you peace.”
I think this statement is true, in time. But the last thing a newly grieving person wants to hear is to cherish the memories. When their heart is hurting and their mind is spinning and their faith is broken, thinking about old memories guts them because the only thing they want to do is create new memories, which they can no longer do.

6. “Pull yourself together because you need to be there for your kids.”
Grief, in its initial stages, is the emotional equivalent to having major surgery. The person is fragile and needs to heal. Following surgery, health care professionals will advise the patient to take it easy and focus on herself. No one would expect the patient to hop down off of the operating table after undergoing heart surgery so that she can fix her kids dinner. So please don’t make a grieving parent feel even worse by suggesting that she’s neglecting her children due to her grief; that’s just cruel.

Grief affects every aspect of someone’s physical and emotional health. It interferes with one’s ability to sleep, eat, concentrate, and function. Therefore, no one has the right to ask another person to swallow her pain in order to focus on others. Doing so only prolongs grief.

Kristi Smith, author of Dream: A Guide to Grieving Gracefully, says that transformation comes from first taking care of oneself.

“Choose to help yourself, so that you can then turn around and help others,” says Smith.

It’s kind of like the oxygen mask rule in airplanes: ensure your own breath before assisting those around you.

7. “So, how ’bout them Broncos?”
Though it may seem like you’re doing the griever a favor by keeping conversations at a superficial level, what grievers need is someone who is willing to let them be real. They need someone who isn’t afraid to talk about the tough stuff. The sad stuff. The human stuff. They need someone who will sit and listen and maybe even cry with them. This isn’t to say that you must never discuss sports or the weather; just try to keep in mind that real healing comes from some of the heavier conversations.

8. “I can’t imagine what you’re going through right now.”
I would encourage you to do just that. Stop and think about how you would feel if you were faced with the griever’s circumstances. Consider their feelings. Contemplate their pain. Imagine their struggle. Doing so will spark empathy in you. And empathy is the best thing you can offer someone who is hurting because when you empathize, the right words come more freely.

Note: This article was first published on The Huffington Post on September 25, 2014.

13 Insanely Hot Things Men Do

Through an informal survey, I have gathered a collection of 13 qualities women find highly attractive in men. Guys, if you want to know what makes us purr, read on.

  1. Men who can fix stuff around the house. If you can don a tool belt and actually know how to use the tools that go in it, you are hot. If you can hammer a nail without smashing a finger or fire up a chain saw without cutting off an extremity, you’re even hotter.
  2. Men who cook. Let me make this clear right off the bat: these meals don’t have to be fancy. If you boil pasta, toast some garlic bread, and toss salad in a bowl, chances are you’re gonna get lucky tonight. If you offer to do the dishes, it’s a done deal.
  3. Men who clean house. We are not picky. If you scrub floors, that’s hot. If you wipe down the kitchen counters, that’s hot. If you vacuum, that’s hot. If you empty the garbage can, that’s hot. If you scoop the litter box, that’s hot. Do you get where I’m going with this? We are hot for anything you do that helps us out with the never-ending list of house chores. When I started dating my husband, Eric, one of the first things I noticed is that his toilet was clean. It’s not like I studied it with a black light, but I detected no noticeable pee streaks on or around the lid or seat. He probably has no idea how many points that scored him.
  4. Men who kill spiders. Enough said.
  5. Men who offer massages. My husband began giving me back massages when I was preggers with our son. Though it was the best ten minutes of my day, I assumed that once I gave birth, those massages would cease. Only they didn’t. Eric has continued this ritual, and I can’t even fully articulate how loved this nightly gesture makes me feel.
  6. Men who follow through. If you say you’re gonna pump up the bike tires, drag out the Halloween decorations, or change the beeping smoke detector battery and then you actually do it, you’re smokin’ hot.
  7. Men who talk. Communication is sexy. Far sexier than moans, mumbles, and monosyllabic grunts.
  8. Men who ask for directions. See how #7 comes in handy here? Getting lost is no fun. If you ask for help, that shows us that you, too, realize that getting lost is no fun. Believe me, if you have the courage to admit that you haven’t the foggiest idea where you are, that’s a one-way ticket to “Hot Town.”
  9. Men who refer to the kids—including the step-kids—as “our kids.” The way to a man’s heart may be through his stomach, but the way to a woman’s heart is through the children.
  10. Men who respect, support, and encourage our aspirations and endeavors—whatever those may be. Life is hard, and we all need cheerleaders, so when you (metaphorically) pick up those pom-poms and tell us that you are proud of us, you make us feel like rock stars.
  11. Men who are kind. Sure, there are those girls who like bad boys, but those girls don’t count because they have not yet matured enough to appreciate what truly matters in life. And that’s kindness, plain and simple.
  12. Men who tell us we’re beautiful. That just feels good to the ears. And it’s kind of like eating chocolate in that it never gets old so feel free to repeat daily.
  13. Men who can recover lost computer files. When Eric and I were dating, I was working on a huge project for a boss that had taken me weeks to compile. The night before it was due, the file went “poof” and I proceeded to nearly poof my pants. Although Eric lived 50 miles away and had just worked a full day himself, he showed up at my doorstop that night in full “techie” mode and managed to retrieve my file. Wow, nerds are hot. To this day I don’t know how he Houdini-ed that file for me. All I know is that’s the day I knew I wanted to marry this man.

Note: This article was first published on the Huffington Post, September 3, 2014