It seems like Death sometimes sneaks up on us, and the older we get the more it starts to surround us. When a loved one passes or when a friend’s loved one passes, it’s hard to know how to react. Dealing with all the emotions surrounding a death makes us feel awkward and clumsy. It is easy for our tongue to get tied into knots and we just don’t know what to say or what to do. That’s okay. Just do your best.
A few helpful things to know:
- Grief is a roller coaster ride. Everyone grieves differently. Allow people space to grieve, but also be around for support.
- It is not healthy to bottle up grief, let the person experiencing the grief express their feelings and share memories with you. Sometimes sharing your memories helps too.
- Sometimes it’s just helpful to be a shoulder to cry on.
- Rituals such as a funeral or a memorial service help some people in the grieving process, if you can attend for support, do so.
- There is not a time limit on grief. All people experience grief differently. There is no correct or incorrect way to deal with grief. It is NEVER okay to tell someone they should move on. They have experienced a substantial change to their world and they must recover at their own pace.
- Watch your tongue, don’t say anything insensitive/stupid: Some examples of such stupidity are:
- “I Understand how you feel.” (You are not them, you have no clue how they feel.)
- “They are in a better place.” (How is being away from them in a better place?)
- “They would want you to move on” (Even if “they” would want that, moving on is a process, that requires time and healing and more time.)
- It’s better to say things like “I’m sorry for your loss” and “I love you” or even “It sucks”.
Some Appropriate Ways to express your Sympathy are:
- Send/Bring a thought-filled personal gift or letter
- Bring Food- Any kind of food, or buy them groceries with a list of what simple meals can be made from them.
- Mow their lawn/clean their house, don’t ask them to call you and ask for your help, just go do it.
- If they have children, take the children for the day.
- Spend time with them, it could be a night of silence, tears or laughter filled memories. Let them talk, and listen, just listen.
- Be patient and let them know you are there for them for the long haul by being there. CHeck in with them often over the coming months and possibly years.
If the person in the grieving process seems to be “losing it”, experiencing trouble coping or functioning you might want to urge them to get some type of professional help in a grief support group, in books, or through counseling.