Tag Archives: Shame

Question number eight: How can I help a friend who is grieving the loss of a loved one?

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Dear Louise,

My friend is suffering due to a death in their immediate family.  I want to reach out to help but I don’t want to intrude. Do you have some tips on how I can be supportive without overstepping my boundaries?

Sincerely,

-A Friend Who Cares

Dear Friend,

There are very few things in life worst than experiencing the death of a loved one. Providing support for someone who is grieving can be challenging.  With one wrong move we can say or do something that might act as a trigger and create more pain to an already hard situation.  However, it is not good to stand back and do nothing.  I have lived long enough to have lost, unfortunately, many loved ones.  I have also had the privilege to be able to support friends and family who were in mourning.   What I have learned along the way is that what the mourner needs from others the most for us to apply the principles of L.O.V.E.  I created this acronym to stand for the following:  L- Listen, O- Observe, V-Value, E-Empathize

1. Listen:

Take time to listen.  Listening is a skill that needs to be learned.  You are effectively listening when you let the other person speak freely without interruption, without interruption, without interruption!!!  This is not the time to give advice or share your opinion, story, point of view etc…  If you truly want to listen, then you must truly be quiet and allow the other person to speak for as long as they want until THEY feel that they have been heard.  A person who is grieving may want to talk about their feelings and need someone whom they can trust to speak to.  If that person is you please remember that its about them not you.  This will require humility, and patience.

 

2. Observe:

In other words, pay attention to your surroundings to the person who is mourning. Become acclimated with their mannerism and look for opportunities to help.  Buy groceries if you notice they are missing.  If the doorbell is ringing, answer it.  Paying attention allows you to help in specific ways.  For example, you notice you’re your friend’s home is a little untidy and you know there are guest coming.  You can offer to help clean.  This is more beneficial then saying, “If you need anything let me know.” Most people who are mourning are generally so overwhelmed that they wouldn’t even know what to ask for.  So offer to give rides to out of town relatives instead.  You will find more to do by building your observation skills.  By the way, always give them the option to say no and respect it.

3. Value:

Value is about respect.  Do not judge mourner behavior or words in a negative light.  You might see a person who is grieving say or do something strange.  If it is not hurting anyone, leave him or her to it.  Their journey is their own.  They have a right to their feelings and emotions.   They have a right to do what they need to in order to find healing and peace.  Never belittle them, instead, quietly support them.

4. Empathize:

To truly understand somebody, you have to walk in their shoes.  You will see behavior that may not make any sense if you judge it from your worldview and perspective.  You must try to image what life looks like at that moment using their filter.  When in doubt always ask yourself, “If I were in their shoes, what would I have done?” This will help you be more sensitive to their needs and enable you to be able to help effectively.

There is a lot of information out there on this topic.  I encourage you to read books on this topic, look up blogs, and talk to some professional counselors and clergy for advice.  The sad truth is this.  Sooner or later we will all be in a positions where our friend will need our help because they are grieving.  May we all be ready…  I will leave you with this quote.

Grief is not a disorder, a disease or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve. – Earl Grollman

Blessings,

Louise

If you have any comments, feel free to post them below.  Any questions can be sent to lifeaccordingtolouise1@gmail.com

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Question number seven: How can resist emotional blackmail?

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Pug Blackmail

Dear Louise,

I am thinking about breaking up with one of my friends.  This person always has to have their way and when they don’t they use guilt as a stick to beat me down.  It’s usually very subtle and I am tired of being around them.  I don’t even like who I am when I am with them.  I have spoken to this person about this behavior and they denied it saying that it was my issue.  They also said that I am too sensitive and they are only keeping it “real”.  Whatever that means!  What should I do?

– Fed up

Dear Fed up,

If what you are telling me is true then it sounds like you are dealing with a manipulative tactic called Emotional Blackmail (EB).

1. What is Emotional Blackmail?

Psychotherapist, Susan Forward defined emotional blackmail (EB) as a powerful form of manipulation in which blackmailers who are close to the victim threatens punishment, either directly or indirectly, in order to get what they want.  This can only work of the emotional blackmailer (EB) is a close relation or friend.  These individuals know where you feel the most vulnerable and will use it against you if it will help them.  You know you have been the victim of emotional blackmail when you feel emotionally drained, insecure, guilty or vulnerable in response to something someone said after you have rejected their request.

2. Examples of Emotional Blackmail…

The emotional blackmailer will say or imply some of the following:

“After all I’ve done for you…”

“How could you be so selfish…”

“I would do it for you…”

They bank on the fact that their victim want love and acceptance and have no problem using fear, obligation and guilt to get their way.  If you feel that you are being a victim of EB, here is one tactic that might help you.

3. Flat out rejection

If you feel you are being emotionally blackmailed into doing something that you don’t want to. For instance, you are being pressured to host a game night at your home when its inconvenient.  Flat out refuse. (This will take courage, mind you…) They may say, “What’s the problem? Why can’t you? I do it all the time!” Don’t worry about the emotions of guilt or shame that will rise within you.  They are there only because they have been triggered by this individual.  When you get a chance, privately go over the event to see if what you did what in fact rational.  You may find that it was but you are still feeling guilty.  Think about what is making you feel guilty.  Does it make sense?  If not.  Let it go.   Be warned, true EB’s will try to corner you into submission before you had time to think it through.  Don’t let them.  Rinse and repeat and the offender will probably leave you alone.  Sometimes completely alone!  You may lose a friend, but the good news is this.  If they do go way they were never your friend to begin with.

I hope you find this helpful.  I will leave you with this quote.

“If we are going to be kind, let it be out of simple generosity, not because we fear guilt or retribution.”
J.M. Coetzee

All the best,

Louise

For more information, Susan Forward wrote a great book on the subject called (you guessed it!) “Emotional Blackmail”. Check it out!

Are you a victim of Emotional Blackmail? Feel free to share your story or offer any advice here.  I just ask that you remain respectful in what you say. If you have any questions for me send them to lifeaccordingtolouise1@gmail.com.  I would love to hear from you!  Just remember, I am not a licensed therapist therefore not liable for any advice that is shared here. – Blessings!