Each of us will encounter loss at some point in our lives. So will other family members and friends, so how can we help those who are grieving.
1. Remember what it felt like to be in that position but don’t expect the other person to react exactly the same way you did in grief.
2. Don’t avoid the grieving person because you don’t know what to say or you’re frightened of getting upset and upsetting them more. When I was younger I admit to doing that at a funeral. I kept my distance from the woman grieving her daughter’s death because I knew I’d end up crying too and didn’t know how what to say. I’ve regretted it ever since. So what of you can’t think what to say? Just be there. It doesn’t matter if you cry. Put your arm around the person and give them a hug. Sometimes the person who says nothing but shows they care by physical interaction can mean more than all the words.
3. Let the person talk about their loved one. Recently I heard a lady I know say people refused to let her talk about her husband. Family kept steering the subject away from him. Remember the good times and good points about the person who has died
4. Let them cry and don’t tell them not to. Cry with them. Believe me, the tears are better out than keeping them all inside.
5. Let them be angry. Don’t criticize and tell them to buck up and get over it. Or that it’s time to move on.
6. Don’t bombard them with platitudes like ‘she had a good innings. He’s in a better place now. I know how you feel.’ You might have an inkling if you have experienced loss but it will never be the same because each person handles grief differently.
7. Don’t give up after a few weeks. Often people are solicitous in ringing up, providing meals and checking in with the person. Then after several weeks it suddenly stops. They assume the grieving person is okay. Wrong. Sometimes for a long while the grieving person can be numb and operating on automatic pilot. It’s only as time goes on and weeks and months pass, that the reality of never seeing their loved one again hits home.
8. Provide practical help if needed by mowing lawns, shopping, cooking meals or just a special treat now and then.
9. Most of all be available especially on weekends or evenings or times that have a great significance e.g. Mother’s day, anniversaries etc.
10. Don’t ask intrusive and impertinent questions but be available and ready to listen if the person wants to talk.
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