Grieving is something we never want to go through, but unfortunately, it’s a part of life. Most of us at one time or another have experienced grief, either first-hand through the loss of a loved-one or by trying to help a friend who was going through the process. In order to understand grief, it’s important to know that losing a loved one can be a life-changing event. It’s an emotional roller coaster that can take a while to get off. Some people never do.
When someone you care about experiences the death of a loved one, it can be difficult to know what to say or how to offer comfort and support. We want to be there for the person, but are often too afraid to help for fear of doing or saying the wrong thing. So we end up doing nothing at all.
If someone close to you is grieving over the loss of a loved one, offering some help is better than offering no help at all. So don’t be afraid to help. Here are some ways suggested by grief counseling experts:
Let them know you are there to talk either in person or by phone whenever they are ready to talk. But even more important, just be there to listen. Simply knowing you’re there can be very comforting. You’re not going to erase their pain, but you can help them heal.
If you are a very close friend, offer to help by setting yourself up as the designated point person who can help relay information and organize well-wishers.
Experts say that it’s best to avoid making suggestions about what the bereaved person should or shouldn’t do. It may make them feel even worse. Also, experts suggest you avoid trying to explain the loss. It can have the opposite effect of what was intended.
Be specific about what you can help with. If you just say “Let me know if there is anything I can do to help,” then you’ll probably never help. Ask what you can pick up for them at the grocery store, take the dog on a walk, help prepare meals, do laundry and so on. Be specific.
Understand that someone who has just lost a loved one may feel fine one moment and overcome with emotion the next. It’s normal when grieving. Just accept it and don’t get upset if sometimes you feel unwelcomed. Everyone grieves in their own way.
Finding the right words to say to someone who is grieving can be difficult. Sometimes simple words are best, such as “I’m sorry for your loss”. But it’s all about what you feel most comfortable saying. If you are unsure of what to say to a grieving person or what to put on a card, here are some suggestions.