Despite your best intentions, it can be hard to listen intently to someone dealing with pain and loss. Our personal communication experience is one of interactive dialogue but if you are to truly help someone processing a loss, the dialogue should be one way.

Distractions are barriers to effective listening. Here are six you can easily avoid:

  1. Don't multi-task such as folding laundry, sorting mail, or unloading the dishwasher. Even if you're on the phone, they can hear.
  2. Don't crack your knuckles, polish your nails, or tap your fingers.
  3. Don't interrupt.
  4. Don't shake your head.
  5. Don't yawn or nod off.
  6. Don't look away from the speaker.


Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now available in three individual volumes: "Illness & Death," "Suicide" and "Miscarriage." Additional titles are available as e-books: "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle StoreClick here to order.


Image via Flickr Creative Commons / Donald Lee Pardue

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Comment by River of Tears on February 6, 2011 at 3:37am

Dear Robbie ,   If I may add just a few to your already great list that not only distract but also are hurtful to the one that is grieving . This I know sadly only because of what has happened after my loving Sister just passed away .

   These are a few things that I found that of someone asked me about her , that it wasn't even the amount of time they had to give it was if I felt that they were actually listening and or hearing what I was saying . For many such as I find it with great difficulty to share at all . My loving Sister was the only one that I could share everything with . 

Please all I believe most would ask is :

     1. That you are not texting as we are sharing

     2. Taking constant calls yet telling you that  you want to talk

     3.  Looking off at others for their reactions

     4. Walking of in mid conversation with out excusing your self

     5. Make what was shared public fodder 


      Trust is so important at this time more then one may think .

  For if not , one may not trust at all to ever share again .

  Sadly that caring has been defined or seen by some  as just an action rather then much more .   Presence of oneself  is knowing when and what you have to offer .  That is grace in itself to another    

  Take care




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