Learn the differences between the right and wrong kind of listener so you can tell your story to people who can help you heal.
Surviving a traumatic experience can feel very isolating. Telling your story to the wrong audience? Well, that can make it feel even worse.
You know it’s important to talk about your grief story, but it’s just so hard. You’ve tried talking to those closest to you, and their advice isn’t working. You’ve reached out to your school, your church, your teammates…they don’t seem to want to hear it. And your well-meaning friends, well, you can tell by the look in their eyes that they just don’t get it.
Telling your story is a vital part of healing. So why does it sometimes make you feel even more isolated? We can promise you that the problem isn’t your story. The problem is that you don’t have the right audience. This blog post will explain the differences between a right and wrong listening partner for your grief story.
What makes a good listening partner?
If you’re reading this article, it’s probably because you know all too well what it feels like to have an unhelpful listening partner. Here’s what a listening partner isn’t:
● Someone who can tell you all about why they know exactly how you’re feeling
● Someone who wants to come up with an action plan to make things right
● Someone whose advice is to “move on”
● Someone who’s silently (or not-so-silently) judging what you’re saying
A listening partner is just what it sounds like–someone to listen. They’ll listen with their heart, not their head. The best sign of a good listening partner is your gut. Check in with yourself after you tell your story. If you feel comforted, loved, and have a sense of release–that person is a good listening partner for you.
Telling Your Story to the Wrong Kind of Listener
Being unable to get the type of listening you need from others can feel like talking to a brick wall. You need to know your pain is real and valid, and when others aren’t listening or can’t understand, it can be a crazy-making feeling. Being misunderstood or even gaslit (told that your story or feelings aren’t real or warranted) can add additional layers of trauma to an already traumatic experience.
But there are many reasons a person can’t understand or chooses not to empathize with your story, and none of those reasons are your fault. Some people are afraid of being vulnerable with others, and your vulnerability can feel threatening to their own emotional comfort zone. Others might love you and would rather see you “get over it” because it’s too painful for them to see you in such agony.
Still others might have social reasons for brushing your story under the rug. If your grief is the result of bullying or misdeeds by someone in your community, there may be political reasons why your community leaders won’t acknowledge it. Church leaders, coaches, and teachers are all responsible for their communities’ well-being. Unfortunately, not every leader is equipped to fulfill that duty.
Just because a person is in a position of leadership, or because they are a close family member or friend, doesn’t mean they are the right listening partner for you. You don’t owe anyone your story if it doesn’t make you feel better to tell it to that person.
Sometimes, it takes looking outside your immediate circle to find someone who can make you feel seen and heard in your pain. A grief recovery group or a grief recovery specialist can be that for you. If you’re grieving a death, loss, bullying experience, or anything else, you deserve to have your story heard by the right audience.
A Grief Counselor Can Be the Listening Ear You Need to Heal
Feeling alone in your pain and not being able to tell your story to someone who truly cares and can help you feel can make the sting of grief even more painful. If you have a story to tell and don’t know who is safe enough to share with, you are not alone. We see you, we know you’re hurting, and want to offer you a safe place to share your story and feel supported in your healing journey. Contact us today to set up a free discovery call and spend some time with us – we’re here for you.
Sharon Brubaker is a certified Life Coach and credentialed Grief Specialist who, along with her team, teaches women who are grieving how to process their thoughts and emotions. To learn more about navigating grief within the family, listen to the full podcast episode here or download my free e-Book, The Griever’s Guide, which equips you with the tools to live life after grief; because no griever should have to navigate a broken heart on their own.