Supporting Loved Ones Through Grief

Supporting Loved Ones Through Grief


By Saba Murtaz

Comforting a family member or friend who is grieving can be a complicated process. It is hard to know exactly what to say or do to help them navigate this distressing time of their lives. Grief can bring raw emotions to the forefront and have a massive impact on the bereaved. It is essential to understand that navigating the grieving process can involve many different feelings causing them to lash out or act out of character.

It doesn't matter if the death was sudden and they didn't have the chance to say their goodbyes. Or if they were aware that their loved one didn't have long left and were able to tell them how much they loved them while they were still alive. It is always a devastating time for anyone, and being respectful of the situation is vital to allow you to support them during this time.

There is no one right way to grieve, so knowing how to support someone dealing with the loss of a loved one can be tricky. It is crucial to deal with any feelings of uncertainty or being uncomfortable immediately to avoid them stopping you from reaching out and providing assistance to someone who is hurting from loss. But how can you effectively help someone who is dealing with grief and be there to support them?


Put your Own Feelings Aside

To put it bluntly, this isn't about and how you feel it is about offering support. So any feelings you may have, whilst completely valid need to be put aside so you can focus on what your loved one is going through.

They will be experiencing a wide range of emotions and may be struggling to accept or deal with the news that someone they loved has died. Asking them to factor in your feelings won't help the situation, and overtime as they work through the grieving process, you can discuss this with them at length. But in the immediate capacity, holding back your thoughts to help them deal with this should be your priority.

As hard as it might be, try not to take anything said to you personally. Lashing out as those around them can be common when processing the death of a loved one. Saying hurtful things to make others hurt as they are can be hard to take. But allowing them to express themselves this way while still being there will show your support during this difficult time.


Listen

Try to refrain from telling someone who is grieving 'how to grieve'. We all process grief in different ways and this intense and deeply painful time is something that they need to work through in a way which works for them. There isn't a one size fits all grief road plan, and as such, you should keep the lines of communication open to help them vent and work through their emotions.

Talking of emotions, these can range wildly and swing from one extreme to the next. Please take all of this in your stride and be prepared to listen to them no matter what they are processing and expressing. Try to remain calm and be there to support them as they offload onto your shoulders.

Be prepared to sit in silence if the need arises. Some people process their pain internally and you showing up for them to sit there while they work through this painful time. Support can come in many ways and allowing yourself the capacity to support someone in any way they need you to can be invaluable.


Acknowledgement

You need to make sure that you are helping them to acknowledge the situation and know that you are there to talk when they need it. Listening in a case such as this could prove to be more important than striking up a conversation.

But letting them know you are able to talk to them about what has happened can help. Be clear in your terminology and express understanding and concern by using phrases such as " I am so sorry to hear this has happened" or " I am sorry to hear (insert name) has died". Let them know they can talk to you about what happened, about the person and how they feel about their death.


In Memoriam

Preserving the memory of a loved one who is no longer here can be a link to helping those left behind to keep their memory alive. Death is a permanent state and memories become more valuable than ever. However, assisting the grieving process by bringing those memories to life can provide immeasurable support for those left behind. Creating memorabilia for people to remember their loved ones such as jewelry for cremation ashes or via pictures, memory books, photo albums, or decorative pieces can all provide some comfort.


Be Practical

It can be commonplace for people to offer support during this emotional time. However, while the meals may be piling up in the freezer from well-meaning offers, it can be more useful to find different ways to help someone grieving. Do they need help with planning a funeral? Or maybe they need assistance with school runs or contacting workplaces, insurance companies or even day to day issues such as paying bills etc. Allow them to lean on you for this support and make sure what needs to be done is taken care of.

Grief can be overwhelming meaning that tasks the person would typically perform become a mountain and something they can't manage to do such as drive, do laundry, grocery shopping.


Be Patient.

Grief doesn't have a timescale. For many people, the loss and the pain of losing someone never truly goes away. It only becomes easier to get through each day with more time passing.

Allowing yourself the patience to be there as and when they need you to be for however long that is can help someone dealing with grief. They will know you are there no matter what and for however long it takes them to move forward and live in a world with their loved one.

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