Grief is an incredibly agonising human experience but also a natural reaction to loss. In life it is almost inevitable that we will experience grief and loss. Although it is a painful experience, grief is also a process that gives us strength to take on the challenges we face in life.
People cope with grief in different ways. Some can overcome it relatively quickly whilst others take time to get through it. However, it is important that when those that are close to us experience grief we help them. In this article I discuss ten ways that we can help those close to us get over grief.
1) DO NOT SAY YOU UNDERSTAND HOW THE PERSON FEELS:- Even if you have experienced the exact same losses as the person who is grieving you can still not truly understand how the person feels. As stated above, people handle grief differently so their experience will be unique to yours.
2) AVOID CLICHES:- For example do not try and tell the person that time will heal the wounds. For some people this may be true but for others the hurt will always be there.
3) AVOID TELLING THEM TO BE STRONG:- People who are dealing with grief are very vulnerable. Telling them to be strong is an unnecessary burden.
4) LOOK FOR SIGNS OF A PROLONGED PROBLEM:- You need to understand the grieving process and if you see signs of a long-term problem developing then aid the person accordingly.
5) WRITE A PERSONAL NOTE WHICH DISPLAYS COMPASSIONATE KINDNESS:- Written words are permanent and can be a real source encouragement for the griever in times ahead.
6) MAKE YOURSELF AVAILABLE:- Sometimes the person who is grieving just needs you to be there and offer a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on.
7) ENCOURAGE THE GRIEVING PERSON TO WRITE DOWN THEIR THOUGHTS:- This is a powerful way to get the grieving person to release their emotions and not keep them bottled up. It can be a great healing process.
8) ASK WHAT YOU CAN DO:- People who are grieving may care less about day-to-day activities such as cooking, shopping or housework. Therefore, you can offer to do these tasks for the person whilst they grieve.
9) UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF THE LOSS:- Make sure you do not trivialise the loss in the words you use to communicate with the person who is grieving.
10) SHARE YOUR FEELINGS ON LOSSES YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED:- In doing this you can empathise with the person who is grieving. Whilst you are not telling them that you understand what they are going through, you are making the attempt to connect with them.
When suffering from grief people often feel isolated and alone. If they choose to be alone then you should respect that. However, you should not avoid the subject completely. By talking about it you are showing that you truly care for the person and you want to help them get through it. Continue to show kindness and this will go a long way to helping another human being get through a dark period in their lives.