Grieving Part One: How To Supporting Grievers

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Death and tragedy in life are inevitable.

We are all grieving something. May it be the loss of a loved one due to death, an illness (Whether the self or a loved one), cancer,  getting fired, divorce, loss of a pet, the loss of a relationship (romantic, friendship), the loss of youth and beauty, health

Being around death make a lot of people feel uncomfortable, and most of the time we don’t know what to say and chances are whatever we say is not very beneficial.

Below are a few general tips and suggestions on how to best support loved ones who are in mourning or who are grieving:

Comments that are not helpful:

Take up the conversation, such as I know how you feel (In reality, we don’t know how the griever feels no matter how similar our experiences are. Each person has their unique combination of thoughts and feelings. We can relate to the experience, but never “know” how the person feels exactly.

Future-oriented comments, such as time will heal all wounds, you will have other children, or you will re-marry.

Advice giving comments, such as you need to be strong, you need to be alone, or not be alone, you need to keep busy. You need to behave in a certain way.

Rushing the Process:  Many people suppress their grief because they are told they need to move in and get over it. This does not help the process, on the contrary, it prolongs is.

Comments that are helpful:

Give the griever time and space to express their feelings and thoughts even if it seems to go against your beliefs. Remember: it’s about the griever.

Stay True: We were not handed a manual if what to say during death so feel free, to be honest, and keep it simple. It is perfectly alright to say: I don’t know what to say, or I can’t imagine how this must feel.

Remind the griever that support is available:  You are not alone, or I am here for you?

Ask the griever what they want:  How can I support you?

Reminder the griever of their strength and this they can get through this.

Give grievers permission to vent even if that venting is anger, negative and not in alignment with the griever’s or your religious views. Death brings out a lot of emotions.

Other ways to help support the griever:

The feeling of being listened to is the exact feeling of being loved. Perhaps the best thing we can do is be there for the griever, be a shoulder to cry on, and an ear that wants to listen to everything the griever has to say. Our inputs are not important unless asked for it.

Ask the griever if they feel like sharing a memory of the deceased.

Suggest a way to celebrate the life of the deceased. 

Acknowledge and validate their feelings Remind them that whatever feelings they are going through is normal. i.e., grieving is a normal reaction

Encourage griever to practice breathing exercises and be in the present.

Some grievers might be in shock and are unable to deal with their emotions …That is ok. Give them the space to get int touch with feelings on their terms.

Work with your own emotions, thoughts, and feelings. Death and loss are different topics that everyone can relate to. Feel free to check in with yourself and reflect ..  Supporting a griever is a difficult task especially when they are close to us and you can do it. <3

What other comments have you heard that upset you, or comments you would have liked to hear?

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