Helping Someone Deal with Loss
Helping Someone Deal with Loss
Have you ever had a friend or family member lose someone close to them? How do you help them? What do you say to them? Can you ease their pain? I can start by telling you what not to do. Speaking from personal experience, the last thing someone wants to hear during this time is “they are in a better place” or “you will see them again one day”. These statements may be true but it is not what someone who is grieving wants or needs to hear. They do not want you to have the “right” words or to make it all better. They need to grieve in their own way and time! They need to work through the stages of grief in the time frame that is right for them not for anyone else. We may want them to hurry through the grieving process so that they don’t hurt but if we rush them, it may eventually take even more time to heal so let them take as much time as they need.
We sometimes have a need to fix problems for someone we love or care about but this is not something that you can fix for them, so please don’t try. What you can do is listen. Listen to them tell stories about their loved one. Listen while they cry, this is hard but they need you to do it. Listen between the lines to what they are really saying. More likely than not, they just need an ear or a shoulder and nothing more. They will sometime blame themselves for not doing more or trying harder. Just quietly reassure them that they did everything that they could have to help their loved one. Guilt is one of the biggest stages of grief and sometimes the hardest to get through. You blame yourself for not doing this or that even when there is nothing more you could have done. So, just reassure them that they did what they could and that they have nothing to feel guilty about but again, this is the time for you to listen more than for you to talk.
Something else that people who have not been through a major loss don’t consider is day to day activities. It takes a lot for someone who is grieving to do the simple everyday things. It is hard sometimes to even get out of bed much less keep a house running, especially if you have a job or children. Things like dusting and vacuuming don’t matter. You can make their week by helping with those simple things such as doing a load of laundry, making dinner and bringing it over, running to the grocery store and picking up necessities and dropping them off or even keeping the kids for a few hours just so they can have a break. To you this seems trivial and not much help but to someone who is struggling to get through each day, these things can be a lifesaver. Do be considerate of their space and do not be controlling or take over but offer and be there. Some people don’t like to accept help even when they need it but if you approach it the right way, they will accept it and appreciate it.
Another thing that can be done to show your loved one or friend that you care is to simply check on them. Everyone is there for the funeral and the few days after the funeral but before long one week turns into two weeks and then into two months and everyone moves on with their life but the person who is grieving, their life is forever changed and often stands still. People forget about that and move on like nothing has happened. They mean well but the person grieving hasn’t moved on. A simple email, a text or a short phone call to say “hey, I was thinking about you” only takes a few minutes of your time but can make their week because someone was thinking about them. I have a couple of friends that I check on every few weeks and on holidays or anniversaries of their loved ones who have passed because after losing my mom, I was the only one who remembered and I felt so alone. I want to make sure, that if I can help it, they will not feel the same way. The first Christmas or Birthday can be harder on someone grieving that you can imagine. To you, it seems like another day but for the person who’s loved one has passed, it is not a day for celebrating or rejoicing, it is a day that is a very real reminder that the person they love is no longer here to celebrate with them and that this day will never be the same again. This is another one of those times that you let them lead. If they want to be alone, let them. If they want to celebrate, let them. If they want to start a new tradition, let them. Again, just be there and be supportive. They need that more than anything. There are a few things that you can and should say. “I will be here to listen if you need to talk” or “it’s ok to cry”. Acknowledge their pain and validate it. They need to know that it is ok to grieve and that they do not have to be strong and super human. They need to be able to grieve how and when they need to grieve. It may mean handing them tissue after tissue, or answering the phone at midnight because they need an ear or answering a text in the middle of your lunch. Most importantly, just be there even if it means just silently sitting and listening. That one act of kindness may mean the difference in your friend or loved one healing just a little sooner or hurting just a little less.
Be a blessing if you can!!! One day you may find yourself in the same situation and hopefully you will have that person who is your rock, who is a shoulder for you to lean on. Hopefully someone will be a blessing to you! It is not hard to help someone who is grieving; it takes very little time and very little effort. You know the person who is grieving better than most people, so step back, watch and listen. Do what needs to be done to help the person you love to get through one of the worst times of their life and make it just a little easier. You cannot fix this for them but you can help make it just a little easier to handle and deal with.
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Images used for this article include:- Pixabay Mourning Sorrow
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