I consider myself a “hope generator.” I believe that people need hope to do the things they need to do when recovering from loss and tragedy. Imparting hope to them isn’t as easy as it sounds. First of all, the person has to be ready to receive hope. If they can’t take it in, they won’t act upon it. If they are ready to receive a sense of hope, the person “generating the hope” has to be very careful about how they do that. Giving someone hope has to be done by the “spoonful” and perhaps delivered in these small doses over a long time.
When supporting another on their grief journey there are things that communicate hope and other things that don’t. For example, if a young mother miscarries or has a still birth, refrain from saying, “At least you’re young. You can have another child.” If a young man or woman are widowed don’t say, “At least you are young. You will get married again.” Remember if what you are saying is not hopeful, I guarantee it won’t be helpful.”
Offering hope is conveying a sense that all will turn out… that something good is to come from the experience. You have to be careful here because a person in the acute phases of grief will not be receptive to hearing that. Instead you show them hope by being there for them without judgement or criticism for as long as they need you. You will listen to their story repeatedly until they are done telling it. You will not persuade or dissuade them. Avoid judgment or criticism and support them without rushing them through the process. You will seek to understand and to learn from them, rather than tell them how to get through the journey.
Hope is this intangible power that we cannot see. We feel it. It is magical and can give us the power and strength to do what we need to do. What can you do today to generate hope for others?
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