It can be difficult to know how to deal with someone you care about that’s grieving after a tragic loss. Many strong and sorrowful emotions, such as depression, guilt, and the like, may plague the bereaved. They may believe that they’re isolated all the time and alone in facing their grief because many people may be uncomfortable offering their support.
What To Do To Help A Grieving Person
You might be cautious of looking intrusive on a grieving person’s space. Saying things that may sound off, or making your them feel worse during this difficult time are just some of the fears peers of grieving people have. Perhaps you may think there’s nothing you can contribute to improve the situation. That’s all completely understandable. However, don’t let your preconceived notions and inhibitions keep you from helping out someone who’s in a state of mourning.
Study The Grieving Process
The more you know about grief and it’s proper handling and treatment, the better prepared you are to assist a grieving friend or relative.
There isn’t a right or wrong way to grieve a loss. Grief is a process that’s said to not often progress in neat, sequential steps. This can be an emotionally exhausting period, with unpredictable ups and downs along the way. Because everyone mourns differently, don’t tell people what they ‘must’ be feeling.
A recent passing can elicit a series of strong feelings and overwhelming reactions. Guilt, frustration, hopelessness, and anxiety are just some of the common emotions believed to be related to grief. A mourning person may scream and shout to the heavens, beat themselves up over the death, or cry for hours on end. What they need most at this point is reassurance that what they’re experiencing is normal. Don’t pass judgment on them and take their despair responses personally. You’re doing the best you can but they also just lost someone dear to them.
Give Practical Help
Many bereaved people find it difficult to ask for assistance. They may feel guilty for attracting too much attention, fear becoming a burden to you, or merely be too stressed to reach out. However, you can perform a gesture or two to lend a hand on their grieving.
Instead of suggesting, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do,” make it much easier for them by giving specific suggestions. “I’m heading to the supermarket this evening after work,” you might say one instance. “Is there anything I can bring you from there?” or “I cooked chicken curry for dinner.” “When should I come over and get you some?” Those are just some of the ways you can lend a hand to a mourning person.
There are numerous practical ways to assist someone bereaved. You could offer to:
- Go grocery shopping or run errands for them;
- Drop off a casserole or other food item;
- Assist with funeral planning;
- Buy them a bouquet of flowers as a gesture of your support;
- Stay at their house to answer phones and receive visitors;
- Assist with insurance paperwork and bills;
- Take care of household chores such as laundry and cleaning;
- They keep an eye on their kids or pick them from school;
- Drive your grieving friend or relative to their destination;
- Take care of their pets;
- Take them for a walk;
- Take them out to lunch or the movies; and,
- Invite them to participate in fun activities such as outdoor sports, cooking classes, and the like.
Say The Right Things
While many are concerned about what to say to someone who’s grieving a dearest beloved, what’s actually more important is to lend an ear that’s willing to listen. When the deceased person is mentioned, well-meaning people frequently avoid speaking about it or divert the conversation to another topic. Others believe that there’s nothing they can say to help thus they try to avoid the bereaved person entirely.
However, the grieving need to see that their loss is being acknowledged. It’s also said to be important to show them that the pain they’re suffering is not shameful to discuss, and their loved one isn’t going to be forgotten. They may resort to crying on your shoulder one day, then vent, sit in silence, or share fond memories of them with their deceased loved one the next day. You can learn from the grieving person by being present and compassionately listening to their thoughts.
Keep An Eye Out For Signs Of Depression
Encourage the bereaved person to talk to a mental health professional if you notice any of the following red flags after the initial mourning period.
- Difficulty getting through the day-to-day routine;
- The death has received a lot of attention;
- Excessive resentment, rage, or guilt;
- Ignoring basic hygiene;
- Abuse of alcohol or drugs;
- Inability to have fun in life;
- Experiential hallucinations;
- Disconnecting from other people;
- Despair is constant; and,
- Discussing death or suicide.
It can be difficult to express your worries to the grieving person because you don’t want to appear invasive. Rather than telling the person what to do, try expressing your thoughts and feelings: “I’m troubled by the fact that you aren’t sleeping—perhaps you should seek help.” This can be a subtle yet effective way to start the conversation about mental health. If left unchecked, a grieving person may easily see themselves sink into deep clinical depression.
It’s easy to feel helpless when you’re faced with the responsibility of comforting a grieving person. There is no one-size-fits-all regimen on what you should do but the aforementioned tips are great insights to build your foundation of knowledge you can rely on as you take on the behemoth task of understanding and caring for a grieving person.