How to help someone who is grieving
When our family members or close friends lose someone, their grief can seem overwhelming. It can leave us feeling helpless or unsure how we can best support them. Whereas it is human nature to feel sympathetic, it is not always easy to show it. In our blog, we will cover some key tips and resources on how to help a grieving person.
Focus on their experience
If you have been through grief in your life, you may well have useful insights to share. It could be that some of the things that helped you at the time will help in this situation too. However it is also easy to forget some of those stages of grief and not all of us experience grief in the same way. Try not to shift the focus of the conversation too much in the direction of your own story. Answer questions about your experience if you feel comfortable doing so. Being available, sometimes just to listen, is often the best support.
Try not to overanalyse
We are all individuals and the grieving process can vary widely from person to person. It may take longer for some people to be able to do every day tasks. They may lose sleep or struggle to eat. They may be angry or depressed. All of these things can be expected for some time. If you are worried about their safety or mental health, seek professional advice.
Grief has to come out. You may feel the urge to offer a distraction but this may not work or have a very temporary affect. Your friend or relative may not want to divert their attention away from how they feel. They may prefer to cry indoors and that is fine.
Suggest professional help
We can only do so much and sometimes professional help such as therapy is what is called for.
In the case of children, a specialist in childhood bereavement will have experience of helping specific age groups deal with difficult feelings of loss and heartbreak. They will also be able to offer guidance for those closest to the child, including teachers. There are often activities that can help a child to express their emotions rather than having to find the words.
Some of us find solace in our religious beliefs during a time of grief. It can be a time when people return to their place of worship after some time away. Support from other members of the church, temple or mosque can be really important in a time of grief. Your friend or relative may ask for prayers or a candle to be lit in memory of the deceased and in support of those left behind.
Podcasts and digital media
Grief is becoming more widely talked about in the mainstream media. Your friend or relative might get some comfort from listening to a podcast such as The Griefcast, hosted by comedians and very highly praised by fans and critics. You may also find online forums with support from people who have lost loved ones in the same circumstances.
Giving something back
For some people, raising money for a charity or research group trying to reduce deaths by a particular disease or condition is a great way to feel like the death was not in vain. It can feel empowering and a fitting tribute for the person who has lost their loved one to make a contribution in the name and memory of the deceased.