4 ways to help someone who is grieving
It is highly likely that most of us will go through some form of grief process in our lives – whether it is the loss of a loved one, a frightening medical diagnosis, a challenging breakup – grief sure can be a rollercoaster ride. From talking with hundreds of people over the years in the therapy room, I know one thing for certain…. Each of us navigates our grief in a unique way.
So how can we support our loved ones when they are experiencing pain and loss? Here’s a few things for you to adopt in being the most helpful, caring, loving and supportive friend you can be during tough times;
Be a good listener
Let your friend talk about their loss. Simply listen to them. Really listen to what they are saying. Try to put yourself in their shoes and empathise. Make them feel understood and normalise their feelings. Stay with the tough conversations and difficult emotions and hold back from trying to ‘look on the positive’.
Help out with practical tasks
Bring a freezer meal
Do their grocery shop
Do their laundry
Babysit their kids
Also, rather than offering general help – be specific “I’d like to come over this morning and help with the laundry”. I still haven't heard of anyone that's turned down a free lasagne either!
Press the pause button HARD on the advice
It can be tempting to jump into “Advisor” mode when you see someone you love in pain or distress. After all, you can likely relate from your own history of navigating tough times. However, even if you have been through something similar, your friend does not want your advice. They want acceptance, understanding and love. If they want advice, they’ll come to you and ask.
The grieving process takes time. Do not rush your friend into acceptance and try to move them on from their loss/pain. Accept where they are at and offer encouraging empathic support. Continue to check in regularly to let them know you are simply thinking of them.
Keep in mind - time alone does not heal anything. It is what we do with this time that matters.