What Can I Do to Help?
Continuing with our series of helping those who are grieving, here are several ways you can have a positive impact as friends or family members work through their grief.
Don't Feel that You Have to Say Something: Our last two posts dealt with what to or not to say, however, the most important thing is to know that just being around is often enough. An embrace, a touch, a physical presence can bring as much or more comfort than words.
Take the Initiative: Just saying, "Let me know if I can do anything to help," doesn't really help. Be specific, be pro-active to be sure that your offer is accepted. For example if you can help with the shopping or a meal, suggest a time and day that you can do so. Or, offer to take on a specific task that you know will be difficult for them. Following through on your offer of support makes all the difference.
Help with Everyday Concerns: When someone is grieving, so often the small everyday tasks get lost and create larger problems. Popping over to help with errands, dishes, laundry or bill paying for someone who is emotionally exhausted is invaluable.
Help With the Children: When children are involved, sending them special cards or inviting them to outings with your family, helps everyone. This allows the adults time to grieve alone, and also gives the child a chance to be away from the sadness at home. Be a good listener. Just because they are being strong, does not mean they aren't in pain.
Accept Mood Swings: Highs and lows are part of the grieving process and you never know when someone will have a good or bad day. Be patient and flexible and aware that even after a good deal of time has gone by, moods can change dramatically.
These suggestions are edited from an article in the My Careletter, printed with permission from Heartlight Magazine.
What is the Right Thing to Say?
In our continuing series of how best to help someone through the grieving process, we initially addressed common phrases people use when trying to console someone who has lost a loved one. We focused on what NOT to say as many times, though well intended, these words can cause more sorrow. This week, we are going to provide some of the suggestions on what TO say. These suggestions were published in an issue of My Careletter, which is available on request from Hilgenfeld Mortuary. Here are some phrases that serve as "door openers" - inviting the bereaved to talk and share their thoughts.
"This must be very painful for you." - This gives the griever the opportunity to voice their pain.
"You must have been very close to her." - The focus is put on the relationship the survivor had with their loved one.
"I have no idea what it is like for you; I have never had a (spouse/parent/child) die. Can you tell me what it is like?" - Then listen!
"It must be hard to accept." - Listen again, this time with an understanding for the difficulties they are facing.
"I really miss (name of deceased). He was a special person. But that can't compare to how much you must miss him. Tell me what it is like." - Once again, listen.
You can see the theme here. When you choose what to say, keep in mind that it is far more important to listen than to fill the void with your words. Offering no judgement or advice, just listening is truly the best way you can help ease someone's sorrow.
Excerpts taken from My Careletter's authorized reprinting from Heartlight Magazine. Copyright 1989-1996, Heartlight Inc.