We decided to celebrate International Women’s Day with a female driven round table discussion, right here in the Walk With Sally office. Our female staffers who make the WWS world go ’round on a daily basis shared stories about the women in their lives who have inspired them, and continue to inspire them.
We also had the privilege of speaking with Kim Hamer, the inspirational author behind 100 Acts of Love – A Girlfriend’s Guide to Loving Your Friend Through Cancer or Loss. Kim’s book really tells it like it is, and touches on the taboos associated with the tough subject of diagnosis and death. Kim explains how often times our good intentions can come across as blanket statements, or even worse, inconsiderate.
In case you missed the LIVE chat, the full length interview is available on our Facebook page. In the meantime, we’ve shared Kim Hamer’s top 5 things NOT to say when a friend in grief:
#1 Don’t say “IF YOU NEED ANYTHING LET ME KNOW.”
- This statement is so vague that it tends to put the burden back on the friend who is in grief. Chances are, they already have a plate full, why give them something else to delegate? Instead, offer specifics. For example, picking up the kids from school, putting a full tank of gas in the family vehicle, or even mowing the lawn.
#2 Don’t say “I KNOW HOW YOU FEEL.”
- Everyone grieves differently, so you probably don’t really know how they feel. Let your friend have their moment of grief without having to compare it to your past experience.
#3 Don’t say “AT LEAST…”
- At the end of the day, there is no “bright side” right now, so stop trying to get them to look that way. Sometimes, the best way to be a good friend is to say nothing at all and just be there as a literal shoulder to cry on.
#4 Don’t say “YOU SHOULD…”
- Again, everyone grieves differently. What works for one, may not work for others. One person may process emotions by running a marathon and pushing themselves to the brink physically. Another, may need to close the blinds and take a five day nap – it’s not for you to decide.
#5 Don’t Say, “EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON.”
- No one wants to hear that. NO ONE. You are better off acknowledging how terrible the situation actually is, rather than trying to sugar coat it. You can be a good friend by being yourself and, being honest, and by NOT pretending there is a silver lining.
Kim Hamer is the author of 100 Acts of Love: A Girlfriend’s Guide to Loving Your Friend through Cancer or Loss, a modern, essential how-to guide offering unique tips on what to say (and NOT to say), and specific ways to support and love a friend, co-worker or family member who is coping with cancer, loss or any crisis.
After becoming a widow at age 44, when her children were 12, 9 and 7, friends and acquaintances came up with simple, creative and powerful ways to support her family. She called them “acts of love.” Her book offers inspiring, fun, and simple overlooked ways to support anyone going through cancer, death or any life changing event.
Kim is a professional speaker, writer and blogger. She lives in Los Angeles with two of her relatively well-behaved children and tries not to bother her oldest in college.