Is a loved one dealing with loss? Wondering how you can support them through the grieving process? Let’s take a look at what you should say & how you can comfort them.
Helping a loved one who’s grieving
Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult experiences as it completely changes who we are. So when someone we care about is coping with loss and grief, we often find it hard to comfort them.
We worry about saying the wrong things or not being able to help them. Hence we tend to hesitate about reaching out as we worry if we unintentionally make them feel even worse. This can be even more difficult if you haven’t personally experienced loss yet.
However, you need to understand that your support matters and can help someone dealing with loss, even though you may not be able to make their pain go away. When supporting a grieving friend, feeling intimidated and anxious is common. This is why we often fail to find the right words and end up saying unhelpful or even hurtful things.
Even though we may worry about somehow hurting someone experiencing a loss, the support of family members and friends during such difficult times can make them feel loved and supported.
Supporting someone dealing with loss
Grieving after a loss can be a complex process of difficult and intense emotions. The bereaved may not only feel sad, they may also be angry, feel guilty and may even be depressed. Moreover, they may also feel alone and isolated during the grieving process as others may not be able to fully understand their difficult emotions.
In a piece published in HelpGuide, authors Melinda Smith, M.A., Lawrence Robinson, and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. write, “You may be afraid of intruding, saying the wrong thing, or making your loved one feel even worse at such a difficult time… But don’t let discomfort prevent you from reaching out to someone who is grieving. Now, more than ever, your loved one needs your support.”
Here are a few things you need to keep in mind when helping someone deal with loss:
- Do not worry about hurting them by saying wrong or hurtful things
- Don’t let your worries prevent you from supporting your grieving loved one
- Focus on offering them a comforting presence and a listening ear more than offering an answer
- Realize that grief is a very personal experience and the process can take a long time
- Be patient, be caring and help in ways that offer practical solutions
According to an article from Harvard Health Publishing, “It can be hard to know how to console a friend or relative who is grieving. If it seems that nothing you can do or say helps, don’t give up. You can’t take the pain away, but your presence is more important than it seems. Accept that you can’t fix the situation or make your friend or relative feel better. Instead just be present and offer hope and a positive outlook toward the future.”
The article added “Even small gestures—sending a card or flowers, delivering a meal, helping out with laundry or shopping, or making a regular date to listen and offer support—can be a huge source of comfort to a person who is grieving.”
If you’re keen on helping your friend dealing with loss, then it’s important that you reach out despite how you may feel about it. Your presence can mean a lot more to them right now than anything you can say to them. In fact, more than any advice, they need your caring presence and support now more than ever to begin the healing process.
Ways to help someone cope with loss
Although there is no right thing to say to someone dealing with loss, there are some ways you can show your support and help in easing the grieving process.