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How to Listen to Someone Who is Hurting

Updated: May 24, 2020

As the holidays are fast approaching, many people are dealing with unexpected or sudden loss which can include the untimely death of a loved one, divorce/separation, family tragedy, or some unknowing circumstance that completely altered their daily existence. Usually overwhelming shock is the initial response and this can last for months... even years. When people face bereavement or other kinds of trauma, they need to eventually incorporate the loss or impact into their now altered state and be listened to in order to heal. In general, we are uncomfortable with that level of human pain and can quickly "jump" to rescue, try to talk them out of where they simply are or remain rigid in our own response due to our own discomfort. It is natural to feel reluctant or even afraid of facing another's painful feelings. It is also important that the fear does not prevent us from doing what we can to help someone who is suffering. While each situation is unique, the most important thing is to be there, listen and show you care. Intense grief and how it manifests can look completely "irrational.' Many times, this life does not deliver the "rational" and the result is the primal human pain that must be endured. It is not simply "I just have to get through the holidays..." it can be "I just need to get through the moment and then Ill go to the next'

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