Why I Started Simple Sympathy

Simple Sympathy began in 2008. It has grown to reach hundreds of people everyday and provides helpful resources like:

Why Simple Sympathy is Needed

Grief is isolating. Mourners feel cut off from everyone who is living as if nothing as happened. Even close friends and family seem to be in a different world. They are alone in their pain. The only thing worse is people who “are only trying to be nice.”

Bereavement forums often have a section for venting about all the insensitive things that have been said. A grieving mother is told to take comfort in the fact that she can still have more children. A family who is told that “at least he is not suffering anymore.”

You might be thinking that Simple Sympathy was born out of such experiences, but it was not. I’ve never experienced insensitive remarks during a loss.

Simple Sympathy was born out of the experiences of being terrible at expressing sympathy. I didn’t say insensitive things.
I just got overwhelmed and did nothing. Then I felt guilty. My friendships suffered.

We can express sympathy better with Simple Sympathy

  • We can speak words of comfort.
  • We can know that our actions are uplifting, not adding an extra burden.
  • We can know that a community will support mourners and that we can do our part.
  • We can know that the best ways to comfort are simple.

Why We Avoid Grief

What is it about grief that makes us want to run and hide? A grief stricken person knows this is true and hates making people want to avoid eye contact. C.S. Lewis describes this experience in A Grief Observed, “I see people, as they approach me, trying to make up their minds whether they’ll ‘say something about it’ or not. I hate if they do, and if they don’t.”

“I see people, as they approach me, trying to make up their minds whether they’ll ‘say something about it’ or not. I hate if they do, and if they don’t.”

C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

The thing is this. It’s human nature to avoid grief and pain. Not just for ourselves, but to avoid people who are suffering. To acknowledge the suffering of someone else requires us to enter into their pain and imagine what it must be like for them. It’s also an acknowledgment that it could happen to us.

I hope for a world where the sympathy givers get beyond good intentions and where mourners get beneficial support. A place where grief and sympathy are beautifully expressed, not avoided.

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