I had a dentist appointment about a month after my mom died. When I told the hygienist about her death, the hygienist asked me how old I was and then told me all about how she lost her mom when she was 25. It didn’t make me feel like we were together in our grief, even though I’m sure she meant it like that; instead, it felt like a grief contest.
I saw a HuffPo article about this very same thing a couple of weeks ago: The Mistake I Made With My Grieving Friend.

When she began to share her raw emotions, I felt uncomfortable. I didn’t know what to say, so I defaulted to a subject with which I was comfortable: myself.

I may have been trying to empathize, at least on a conscious level, but what I really did was draw focus away from her anguish and turn the attention to me.

It made me realize how often I do the same thing, thinking I’m sharing my experience and being supportive. But now that I’ve experienced it, I realize I just need to listen. If I need to say anything, I say: “That sounds hard.”