How To Be Supportive In Times Of Grief
was an exclamation I often heard when as children our mother was dismayed and trust me, you didn’t want to be around for long once those words had been uttered!!!!
During this past year, how many times have you been tempted to say, “Good grief?” We have been through so much pain, so much loss that for many of us, the body is finding it hard to cope. And when we cannot express with words what we are going through, the body finds a physical way to bring our attention to the pain. As we grieve the loss of normality – going to work, the park, theatre or party – where in your body are you holding that pain? It could be your neck, back, shoulder, stomach, legs or something as insignificant as frequent headaches.
Many of us are not saying it, but this lack of touch and the inanimate atmosphere of zoom has us feeling like we’ve lost something important. We feel alone and adrift, afraid to speak our truth for fear of being ridiculed. But you are not alone. Touch is a vital part of human existence.
So how do you connect with others?
- Stay in Touch
While we are feeling somewhat isolated and separated from some of our loved ones, friends or colleagues, we can reach out with a phone call, text, or even a handwritten letter. Make the call personal – for no other reason than to shoot the breeze. Do not rush the call. Make the person feel supported and connected. If there has been death, this is even more important. Keeping up with your loved ones and those who are grieving around you is crucial when there is a loss of human interaction.
- Refrain from Comparison
When talking through difficult conversations like death or other forms of losses, it may be easy to relate it back to yourself to make the other person feel like they are not alone. However, this comparison can make them feel like their emotions are invalid and not understood. Rather than comparing their loss to another loss, listen to what they are going through and be there for emotional support.
This allows them to express their emotions and sometimes just talking about the situation rather than keeping it bottled up can help improve their situation.
- Assist with meals
When someone is grieving a loss, it can be hard to get off of the couch or out of bed to cook a meal. Can you go to the store for them and/or prepare meals? Can you sit and eat with them? This can greatly improve their day and show them how much you care. When someone experiences a loss, their whole routine will feel out of line and it will take time to adjust, so anything you can do to keep their routine moving will be greatly appreciated.
Although there are many ways to show your support for loved ones who are grieving, one of the most important things to do is just be there with an open heart and listening ears. Although it may seem like the person is questioning and needing advice, often they just need a place to let out what is going through their head. Just be there to listen. Unless asked for advice, the best thing to do is acknowledge their feelings and let them know that what they are going through is very normal during a loss.
- Avoid Judgement
Grief is a unique emotion. It may take you or your friend or loved one a lot longer to adjust emotionally and mentally than you would expect. Instead of wishing that you/they could go back to normal, you need to relax. Just be there with support for as long as they need it and let them adjust. And if you are the one suffering, be gentle with yourself. Healing takes time.
Yes, on the surface you say, “It’s not a big deal.” But inside it hurts. It doesn’t matter how miniscule the loss is, it will still hurt.
Allow yourself time to grieve.
During these unpredictable times, don’t judge. You don’t know their story. Sometimes you don’t even know your own. Judging only hurts the other person and make their feelings seem invalid.
So, the next time you feel like saying “Good Grief” or some other epitaph, remember to be supportive and help to make the grieving process good. Your support will help more than you could imagine.
Let us be there for each other