Helping/Supporting Someone Who Is Grieving
Bereavement can be a lonely and frightening experience for many people. Once the funeral is over and the cards and flowers stop pouring in, they still need caring and support.
It is not uncommon for people to have difficulty openly expressing their feelings around grief and sadness. This may be particularly true when the public outlets for their pain and sorrow have ended. Where do people then turn for support? Family members may be too preoccupied with their own grief to reach out. This is a time when friends, co-workers and neighbors can be instrumental in the healing process. The bereaved should be able to rely on members of their social network for caring and assistance, both practical and emotional.
Grieving is a normal healing process
Regardless of the type of loss, there is a natural process of grieving. Understanding the nature of grief and bereavement gives you the insight that will enable you to help someone else cope. The more you understand about the basics of the grieving process, the more you may be able to help them:
- It is normal and necessary to experience intense emotional sensations in order to heal properly?
- Feelings of guilt, embarrassment and anger are part of the restorative process.
- Each person grieves differently.
- There is no set timetable for bereavement.
The most important thing you can do is just be there for them. You might not know exactly what to say or what to do, but that’s okay. Don’t let your discomfort get in the way when you want to reach out to a person who is grieving. Now, more than ever, your support is needed. Be willing to push past the awkwardness and be honest and straightforward. Know that you don’t have to solve their problem; simply provide a listening ear.
When people feel guilty
Sometimes grieving people may feel guilt about what they should or shouldn’t have done. You can help by:
- Letting them know how much you care.
- Affirming that they have done their best, and assure them that you know they will continue to do so.
- Encouraging them to keep talking about their feelings.
Even when you feel uncomfortable, provide an atmosphere in which your bereaved friend or family member knows that they have permission to talk about the person who died. Talk candidly about that person by name. When it seems appropriate, ask sensitive questions – without being nosy – that invite them to openly express their feelings.
Reprinted with the permission of Helpguide. © 2001-2008. All rights reserved.
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