How to Support Someone Who Is Grieving
You may wonder how you can best support someone who is grieving.
One of the most important things to convey to a person who is mourning the loss of a loved one is that it’s OK to grieve in their own way.
Knowing this releases any pressure they might be feeling from family, friends, and society. People grieve differently. There is no proper time or way to experience grief. It is important for people to be honest with what they feel during each stage of grief and have safe people and places to share what they are going through.
Things to Do to Support Someone Who is Grieving
Remind the bereaved that it is normal to feel overwhelmed with emotions.
Humans are emotional beings and will experience a wide range of emotions during the grieving process. Depending on the circumstances of the death, they may feel anger, regret, sadness, loneliness, and the list goes on. Whatever feelings they have, is important for them to fully feel their emotions fully so they can process the death.
Offer to listen, just listen.
Provide a safe, private environment for the bereaved to relax and express their feelings. Resist the urge to fill any silent moments in the conversation. Sometimes just sitting beside someone when they cry is very supportive. They might be tired of being told what to do or how to feel. Just “be” with them.
How to Behave Around Someone who is Grieving
Experts in the field of Grief and Bereavement agree that certain phrases can be interpreted differently than how you intend them.
Depending on the situation and timing, saying “everything is going to be okay” might not be the right thing to say. Soon after the death, things probably don’t feel ok. Even though this may seem a supportive thing to say, it can also be interpreted as not allowing the bereaved to feel sad, angry, lonely, etc. Saying “this must be so hard for you” acknowledges they are going through a tough time and validates their feelings.
Questions and Conversations to Support Someone who is Grieving
When talking to the bereaved for the first time, ask them if they would like to talk about what happened the day of the death. They may be tired of talking about it, or they may not have had enough opportunities to talk about the events of that day.
Ask the bereaved if they would like to talk about their relationship with the deceased. The opportunity to talk about their relationship, good or bad, gives them a space to express their feelings.
Tell them about the “empty chair” technique. This technique is a type of role-playing exercise that gives the bereaved the opportunity to “talk” to the deceased in an imaginary conversation. When the bereaved is having a tough time, it might be helpful for them to express their thoughts and emotions towards an empty chair and imagine the deceased sitting in it. This can be a comforting exercise during their journey.
Grieving is Tough, Support Someone Who Is Grieving By Recognising When Professional Help is Needed
The grieving process can be tough. Even with a good support system, sometimes professional help is needed. Reach out to grief therapists and ask for advice about how best to support a person who is grieving or how to suggest their services to someone who is grieving.