There are a few common feelings of grief people may experience:
• Struggling to sleep
• Overwhelming sadness
As you support your loved one while they are experiencing grief, it’s likely they will feel each of these emotions at some point during the grieving process. For a more detailed look into the stages of grief and the symptoms, find out more information on how to cope with grief and loss from the perspective of the bereaved.
How to support someone who is grieving
Supporting someone dealing with grief can be testing. It takes time, and the utmost of patience – but it is extremely important in the healing process to have stable support that the bereaved can rely on during this time.
• Listen with compassion – ensure you appear attentive and concentrate your efforts on listening closely, making them feel they are being listened to and that their thoughts and feelings are valid.
• Human touch – taking their hand or giving them a hug can mean the world of difference to them, giving them that human contact they may be missing. Just make sure they’re happy with it first.
• Ensure you don’t judge or trivialise their grief – as everyone’s grief is different, your friend or loved one may be experiencing grief in a way that you haven’t experienced before. Be there for them and make them feel their grief is accepted.
• Don’t push them into talking – it can often be just as comforting to someone to merely have company – sitting in silence, rather than speaking about their feelings.
When it comes to helping someone grieve, dependant on your relationship with the bereaved, you may have the opportunity to help them out practically, too. However, it should be noted that the bereaved may still want to practically live their life as a distraction from their own grief, so only take on these responsibilities if deemed appropriate for supporting them with their grief:
• Answering their calls – it may be a hard time for the bereaved to answer calls and messages from people checking they’re okay. With their permission, taking care of this for them may relieve some stress and pressure from them.
• Cooking – simple daily tasks that used to be completed without thought may now seem mountainous – bringing over pre-cooked meals for them not only ensures they are still eating, but also that they don’t have the worry of cooking and preparing.
• Chores – housework and washing clothes, again, can seem like a huge effort and trivial in comparison to what has just happened to them. Helping them out here can relieve some of the monotony they may be feeling without their loved one.
What to say to someone who is grieving?
It can be difficult to know what to say when someone is grieving. You may feel like you’re unsure of the right words you should use to help them, but more often than not, keeping it simple and ensuring the attention is always focussed on them is the best thing to help their grief.
Some examples of what to say include:
“Your reactions to grief are normal and appropriate”
“Tell me about your [father]”
“You aren’t going crazy”
“I don’t have any words”
“Grief has no expiration date”
“We don’t need to talk. I’ll just sit beside you”
“We won’t forget [him]”
“[He] would be proud of you”
Comments to avoid when helping someone grieve
Comments to avoid when helping someone grieve, phrases such as this not only minimalize a person’s grief but can also come across as quite hurtful.
When helping someone grieve avoid saying:
“I know how you feel.”
“Time heals all wounds.”
“You’ll feel better soon”
“They’re no longer in pain so you should be thankful for that”
“You have a lot to be grateful for”
“Try to remember the good times”
When it comes to bereavement help, reading the signs of the bereaved and how to approach their grief is important – take it step by step with them when they are ready.