The Language of Grief: Changing the Way We Talk and Think About Loss
Words matter. What we say, how we say it, and who we say it to matters, because those around us can be greatly impacted by the language we use and the words we choose to communicate with.
It’s what we teach our children at the very earliest stages of their development and something that is reinforced for years to come, as we go through school, manage our personal relationships and develop our professional lives.
What we don’t often get taught, and something that doesn’t get the same amount of time or attention, are the words we choose when speaking to ourselves and what words thread the fabric of our thoughts as we weave them.
Perhaps it’s because the words that go through our head don’t feel thought out at all. Like a stream of consciousness, most of what we think is automatic and becomes the background noise of our day-to-day lives.
This is bad news for most of us. Because for most people, and for the griever especially, so much of what’s going on in our heads is negative. Worry, anger, sadness, second-guessing, self doubt…
I’ve learned many things in working with those who have lost a loved one, but something that stands out is this: grief has its own language.
There are words, and especially phrases, so commonly used by those who are grieving…and while they are not unique to those who have had a loss, the meaning behind them is special and needs to be paid attention to.
When speaking to grievers about moving forward after the loss of a loved one (a goal most bereaved, in one way or another, share) I most often hear the following: