Using this funny family roller coaster picture to prove a very important serious point.
Not one person experiences things the same way. You see, in this picture we are all on the same rollercoaster, yet each of us had a completely different experience on it!
When My Sister Died
I was 21 years old when my sister Zorana died at the age of 18 in a tragic car accident. My sister Katherin was 12 and our brother Daniel was 7. Though we all went through the same loss, that of a sister, we all delt with it differently.
Many factors played into that, our age, our individual relationship with Zorana, our own encounters with death in the past and our own understanding of death itself, among many others. The same was true for our parents, who though both had lost a daughter, both handled it differently.
Don't say "I know how you feel"
Being empathetic is key to being able to support and understand someone who is going through a huge life change. Even if you've lived through a similar event, it will not be the same. So don't say "I know how you feel", because you don't! You are not me and I am not you! Can you relate to this phrase? Have you been told this by someone that clearly has no clue how you feel?
We seriously are in autopilot so often, that we say the autopilot comments to so many things in our life! Heck, I still say this phrase even though I don't believe in it! I'm on autoreply mode often too. An instance that I chime in and say that phrase is when I see a mom with young kids who are about a year apart in age. "I've been there" says the wise sage! LOL Seriously, I want to go back to so many instances in which I said this, because all I did was project my story on to them! Their journey into motherhood will be absolutely different then mine, even if our kids are similar age difference from each other.
What's the Right Thing to Say?
Every circumstance will lead to a different reaction or response, so what do you say when you are faced with offering support to someone who has had a similar experience? You could say "I don't know how you feel, but I can relate. I'm here for you!"
You will go thorough similar events than others, but it will never be exactly the same . Because in this crazy roller coaster of life you and your loved ones are in, you will experience moments of happiness or loss, and not all of you will experience it the same way. .