Grief is a terrible thing we all must inevitably face. One thing to remember is everyone’s journey through bereavement is completely individual. You need to remember this when you are helping those close to you through their grieving process. Doing/saying nothing is certainly an option, but it is not one that is successful. Being there for your friend/partner/family member in any and every way you can is very important, though at times it can be difficult to know how you can help. Here are some ideas to consider:
The process of grief is extremely unpredictable; there is no universal sequence a person goes through. They may seem fine and then something triggers in them an emotion response and it seems like you go back to square one. Just remember, their grief is unique to them. Something which worked for you or your family may not work in this situation. There is no timetable to adhere to and each person deals with it differently.
Losing someone you love can promote extreme emotion reactions in people, from desperation to anger and intense sadness. You may have to deal with these outbursts, don’t take these personally and try not to judge.
Some people feel comfortable discussing their loss, other do not. Either way, you should acknowledge the bereavement so that person knows that you are aware and will listen to them if they need you. Do not assume you know how they feel, ask in a sincere manner and express your concern and care. Being genuine and honest in these situations is the way to encourage them to be as well.
You don’t know when or if it will get better, you don’t know if harder times may be ahead. It sometimes seems easier to say cliché phrases, but they can often undermine the grief a person is feeling. Let them know you are there, you are compassionate and are willing to listen, without attempting to explain away or minimize their loss.
Sometimes the easiest things are a huge trial for those coping with loss. Helping with funeral arrangements, shopping, housework, childcare, paperwork, and cooking, for example. can really help with lightening the load. Things like taking walks, going out to lunch, and just providing company makes all the difference.
In the coming months and years that pass by, you may feel like the person is ‘over’ their loss. That is not the case. Your continued assistance is important well into the future. This may be on special days like Christmas or on the anniversary of their death. Let them know you are there for them during these times and whenever they need you.
Overall, the most significant thing you can do for someone suffering from grief is to show them you love and care for them. Knowing they have your continued support can mean so much to them and give them strength when they most need it.
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