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How to help someone who is grieving Blog

When a loved one loses someone close, our natural instinct is to help. But sometimes, especially if we haven’t experienced bereavement first hand, it can be hard to know exactly what to say and do. Often the support from friends and family can facilitate the healing process of grief and make an isolating time seem considerably less lonely.

Conduct research into grief

It is likely, if you are reading this article, that you have already decided to research grief and how best to support a loved one experiencing it. Probably the most important thing to know is that grief is not a linear process with clear, predictable stages – it comes in waves and, similar to water, it ebbs and flows.

Grief can initiate a wave of unfamiliar emotions such as guilt, anger, despair, and fear – let your loved one know that all of these feelings are not only valid, but normal. The best thing you can do is to be there for them through each emotion.

Speak to them in a way that works for them

Many of us will have a preferred method of communication. Whether your loved one prefers to speak on the phone, in person or via text, make sure you’re communicating with them using their preferred method. Many will struggle with talking on the phone right after a bereavement and will find at home visits too much so when you first reach out, start with something small like a text.

When it comes to social media, take the lead of the bereaved. If they are particularly private and have not put much online, follow suit by sharing your pictures and memories privately.

Acknowledge how bad it is

When talking to your grieving loved one, do not sweep their feelings under the carpet with terms like ‘it could be worse’ or ‘it’s all part of god’s plan’. By doing this you’re invalidating their grief. Instead acknowledge the situation, let them know you’re there if they want to talk it through and listen to them.

For more advice on what to say after someone has passed away, read our blog on what to write in a funeral card.

Give them space

While grieving, one can experience enormous amounts of pressure to respond to messages or to show up to events. The best thing you can do is let them know there is no expectation on your side - you will be there for them in whatever capacity they need and want.

Don’t be afraid to mention the deceased

Often, for the family and friends of those grieving, it can seem intimidating to bring up the person who has died. But talking about those who have passed is a lovely way of keeping their memory alive and helps facilitate the healing process. Remember, it is not your job to fix your friend/ family member or make them feel better, simply to enable them talking about their loved one and process their emotions.

Listen, don’t assume

Don’t assume they want to talk and don’t assume they want alone time – grief is a different experience for everyone. Some may prefer long chats, whereas others may prefer to sit in silence side by side. Reach out to your friend and then act according to their requirements. Don’t assume there’s nothing you can do - it might just be a case of sitting there and listening.

Don’t forget

Grief does not go away. It may subside and dull, but days like anniversaries, holidays, birthdays, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day etc. can be difficult. In these times, your continued support will be welcomed. Acknowledge the day, letting them know you’re thinking of both them and the departed.

Offer to help

Grief is overwhelming and can often make even the smallest of tasks seem impossible. Offering to help is one of the best things you can do but make sure you approach with specific offers. Don’t use generic statements like ‘if there’s anything I can do’ or ‘let me know if you need anything’, as people are unlikely to reach out and ask. Figure out what you can do - some of the things you could do include:

  • Running errands – this could include jobs such as picking up the kids from school, doing the shopping, cleaning the car or mowing the lawn.
  • Helping with funeral arrangements – if the deceased does not have a pre-paid funeral plan, the process of planning a funeral can often be difficult. Offer to help out with something such as the funeral flowers, or writing and sending out invitations.
  • Cooking – when experiencing grief, it can be very difficult to do even the smallest tasks like making a home cooked meal. Cooking a dish that can be easily popped in the oven is a great way to help out without smothering your friend.

How to alleviate added stress to someone who is grieving

The stress of planning a funeral can often set back the grieving process – to combat this, you may want to consider prepaid funeral plans. These plans can alleviate the cost and emotional pressure from your loved ones when the time comes.

For more information about our services, get in touch with our helpful team today.

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