How to support someone who is grieving
Witnessing someone you love and care about grieve isn’t easy; you are often left feeling unsure on what to say or do to best support them. This person will be struggling with many new, intense and unimaginable emotions, so it can feel a little uncomfortable to offer support – especially if you aren’t sure the best way to approach them.
The main thing is not to worry or feel guilty for feeling like this; plenty of people do and it is completely natural to feel this way. Nobody really understands quite what to do when supporting someone who is grieving, so we have collected together a few handy tips that might help.
First and foremost, it is so important to be aware that there is no right or wrong way to grieve, no rule book of ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’. Everyone grieves differently and it is very rarely a linear process. What your loved one is going through is unpredictable, and should be handled delicately. Nobody should ever feel judged for feeling a certain way when they are grieving.
Let them talk and be prepared to listen
It is important that your loved one knows that they are able to talk about what has happened and that you are prepared to listen. Talking about death is still a relatively taboo topic, making it very difficult for someone who is bereaved to open up. However, if you let them know that they are able to fully open up with you about it, this kind of support can go a long way. Remember to be patient with them when they are talking to you, they won’t always know what to say, or feel comfortable opening up right away.
Offer practical support
Particularly when someone is newly bereaved, they may struggle with day-to-day tasks; this is where you can offer practical support. Practical support can look like a number of different things, including:
- Do their food shopping
- Help with housework
- Do the washing up
- Drive them to appointments
Although these might seem like very minimal things, they can make all the difference to someone who is experiencing loss. Sometimes, it is the little jobs that require the most effort – so asking them what they need doing could really help them on this new journey.
Avoid making assumptions
Generally, people are very good at hiding their emotions, so it can be very easy to assume someone is okay based on their public presentation. However, looks can be deceiving. It is so important not to assume someone is okay, just by how they present themselves outwardly. Quite often, lots can be going on in someone’s head that they will never voice. Instead of telling someone they are ‘really strong,’ instead ask them how they are feeling; this will open up valuable conversations that they may need.
Consider professional help
Grief can be a very difficult journey to navigate; and it sometimes isn’t possible to deal with it on our own. If you see any signs that your loved one is struggling, it might be worth suggesting that they seek professional help. Alternatively, you could seek help for someone, if you feel they might need professional help but aren’t sure how to bring it up to them. It is always better to be sure that someone is okay, so always seek help if you feel it is needed.
Although these are just a few things to consider, it shows dedication and commitment that you have taken the time to look up how to support your grieving friend. Grief is a complicated and scary journey, the best thing you can do is to be there for your loved one when they need you and to offer your support and love when they need it most.
By Rebecca Thomas