Grief spares no one and reminds us that we live in a world that is beyond our control. Grief and death are not something you can control and even the world's most powerful and wealthy people deal with grief and loss.
Even though most of us want to be helpful and supportive when grief strikes a family member or a friend, we often don't know what to say or what to do. We are usually afraid of saying the wrong thing or making the grieving feel even worse. However, you should know that even though you can't take away the pain of their loss, you can certainly provide comfort and support to the grieving person. Don't let discomfort of fear stop you from reaching out to someone who is grieving. You might not know what to say or what to do now, but your friend needs your support more than ever. The best thing you can do is to simply be there to help your him or her cope with the pain.
Here's how to help someone who's grieving in a few simple and thoughtful ways!
Accept and acknowledge their feelings. You may not understand their feelings and emotions now, but you need to remember that everyone grieves differently. Grief is a very personal experience and belongs to the person experiencing it. Their grief reactions are natural and necessary for their healing process, so don't pass judgment and don't tell them how to cope with their grief. Your grieving friend should feel comfortable to express his or her feelings without any fear of criticism, judgment, or argument.
One of the most important things you can do for your grieving friend or relative is to truly listen. Allow them to talk about their deceased loved one as often as they would like, even if they are repeating themselves. Assure them that it is okay to talk about their feelings and listen attentively with genuine interest and curiosity. People who are grieving often need to tell the story repeatedly, so be patient and let them talk about their loss as much as they want. Repeating the story is their way of accepting the death.
Offer to help a grieving person with some daily tasks like grocery shopping, doing laundry, preparing meals, making phone calls, paying bills, or babysitting. Even if they don't ask for help, take the initiative and help them out because many people who are grieving feel guilt and shame asking for help. Do at least one practical act of kindness every day - this is one of the most wonderful ways to help a friend who is in sorrow.
Some people who are grieving need more time to heal, so be patient and continue being there for your friend, weeks, months and years later. Even if the person is not yet ready to talk and be around others, simply knowing that you're there can be comforting. Your grieving friend or family member will need your presence in the days to come. See them more often that you did before and show them that you're always there to provide comfort.
Holidays, birthdays and anniversaries are extremely hard for people who are grieving the loss of their loved one. You can't take away their pain, but you can always check in and let them know that you're thinking about them. Remember important dates such as wedding anniversary, their loved one's birthday, or death anniversary and send a card, gift or flowers. Holidays are also important, so offer to spend time with your friend during these hard times.