November 30, 2016 at 9:12 PM EST - Updated August 10 at 1:36 PM
How to Help a Loved One Coping with Loss
It is not unusual to feel awkward or uncomfortable when it comes to trying to support someone who is dealing with profound loss. However, the worst thing a person can do is simply fail to do anything at all. Here are ways to provide compassionate support to grieving loved ones:
Just start by asking, “Do you feel like talking?” You don’t have to be nosy or pry. Just open the door for communication.
Listen more, talk less. Often what a grieving person needs most is a secure space to communicate his emotions. You don’t need to share your experiences, offer opinions, or advice. Generally, your quiet presence is enough.
Accept all feelings and emotions. Let the grieving person know it’s ok to be upset, or angry, or numb. Everyone deals with death in their own way, and should be able to express their feelings freely without judgment.
Avoid comments such as the following:
“I know how you feel.” Even if you have experienced a similar loss, you can’t ever know how another person feels.
“It’s part of God’s plan.” Religion is intensely personal, and while this message may be well-intentioned, it may cause more pain than comfort.
“She is in a better place now.” The grieving person may not agree with you.
“It is time to move on.” Grief does not have a finite time table, and it differs for everyone
Make concrete offers of assistance, rather than stating, “let me know how I can help.” This takes decision-making pressure off the grieving individual. For example: you could offer to help with specific aspects of funeral arrangements such as communicating with caterers and florists.
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