When someone close to you suffers a loss, you may be confused about how to help them. The bereaved often undergo a mix of intense emotions and may feel alone during this period of time. It is understandable that you may feel worried when offering support because you are unsure about what is the right thing to do or say. Here are four ways to help you overcome the doubt and reach out to help a loved one who is grieving.
Help them accept the pain
The death of a loved one prompts grieving which can cause a person to go through an emotional rollercoaster. Often times, people avoid talking about the cause of death or any subject relating to the deceased. Well-meaning friends and relatives will focus more attention on the ‘facts’ of the situation such as the current funeral arrangements, where they can provide any help necessary.
But, the bereaved may also need to know and feel that their loss is acknowledged. You may feel the urge to hold back in order to avoid reminding them of the bad news again, but it is probably always in their minds constantly. When you express your sympathy, it can bring a sense of comfort to them and help them in a small way to accept the pain. If a bereaved person wants to talk about the circumstances of the death, encourage them to speak and listen without interjecting. Re-telling the story helps them to come to terms with the pain. You don’t have to say any magical words to make it all better, give them the space to feel heard and express themselves.
Be there for them
Not all grievers will talk about their loss. Many can shy away from asking for any kind of help, such as having the company to make a trip down to consult with the funeral director, or even getting some financial support on the funeral costs. Some people feel too depressed and do not have the mental and emotional capacity to reach out, while others feel like they are a burden.
Being sad can be lonely. Be proactive and ask them how you can help them. If you are passing by the grocery store, call them up and ask if there’s anything you can get for them. Send a text expressing love and support, or bring over some takeaway food for them, and remind them that you care.
Unless you are attending a Christian funeral, for example, saying “this is part of God’s plan” can be deemed as insensitive especially to a non-religious person who is grieving. You can provide support without feeling like you are preaching to someone, even more so when they do not share your religious beliefs. Also, refrain from making comments on their appearance. Whether they have lost weight or look dull, it may be inappropriate to give physical compliments or criticisms.
Show your love
Grieving lasts longer than the funeral service. So, be ready to support and show your love over the long haul, for as long as it takes. Stay in touch and talk with them, as your support at this time is crucial. Grief is a personal experience, and you have a supporting role in showing your love by listening, and being present in their lives.