Family and Friends - Helping A Loved One Through the Journey of Grief
Part Two in our series of suggested guidelines to help someone you love who is grieving.
Listen and don't try to fix things. - When you listen, which is so important, try really hard to do just that - listen. Don't try to "bandaid" all the worries and woes, as you can't. The best remedy is a willing ear.
Show tender care and encouragement. - Those who grieve will be of heavy heart for a long while. You need to, if possible, be there for the long journey. Caring, encouraging and letting them know you are there beside them is one of the best gifts you can give.
Share your own memories of their loved one. - Grieving will bring back a flood of memories, ones that may be hard to suppress and become all consuming. Offering your own stories of those who have passed can shift direction and show your friend that the individual will not be forgotten.
Realize that companioning grief takes its toll. - Guiding and helping someone you love through the grieving process is emotionally draining. It steals your energy and puts your emotions in a constant low state as well, especially if you also knew the person who passed. Be sure you keep yourself emotionally and physically healthy to remain strong in support of your family and friends who are grieving.
Guidelines and tips are helpful, but are no panacea for solving or quickening someone's grief. Time, care, compassion and love are the best tools to hold close through this difficult time. Content for this article was taken from My Careletter and an article written by Reverend Mary Bredlau.
Family and Friends - Helping A Loved One Through the Journey of Grief
- Part One
Without a doubt, grieving can be a very lonely experience and at times, solitude is necessary to help get you through. But over the course of time, family and friends will play an important role in the grieving process. If you know someone who needs your support, here are a few guidelines and tips. (Part two of this article will appear in our next blog.)
Acknowledge, don't avoid. - When someone is grieving, the natural tendency is to leave them alone, giving them space until they are ready. It may take time, but your acknowledgement of the loss will help those who are grieving accept the difficult reality. Your words and presence will smooth that transition.
Serve as a willing sponge. - You job as a support provider is to listen and listen again. Listen to the story of pain over and over until the storyteller no longer needs to hear it themselves.
Validate without correcting. - When someone grieves, they need to talk. They need someone to hear them and know that what they are saying is being heard. Try to validate what they are saying without contradicting or correcting them on small details or using cliches to make them feel better.
Accept where they are in the grieving process. - There is no timetable for grief. So many factors determine how and when someone emerges from the grief over the loss of someone they love. Accept their timing and wait for them to find the right schedule to begin to heal.
Offer specific ways to help. - So many times, although well meaning, people offer their help after the death of a loved one, but give no substance behind the offer. Saying, "call me if you need me", will most likely result in no connection. Offer specific ways you can help and follow through.
We'll be addressing several other ways to be the best support you can be for family or friends who have suffered the loss of a loved one. Our next blog will detail four final suggestions. Content for this article was taken from My Careletter and an article written by Reverend Mary Bredlau.
Sometimes a stranger's words can help us heal. Here is one of our favorite poems to help process grieve and bring comfort.
Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glint on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand and my grave and cry;
I am not there, I did not die.
Mary Frye, American Poet (1904-2004)
Is Pre-Planning the Right Option for You?
Thinking about and discussing funeral arrangements in advance with your loved ones can be uncomfortable and often times many people do not have the conversation for that very reason. But there are a number of things to consider when you are deciding if now is the time to move forward with pre-planning your funeral. Here are a few:
Ease the burden on your family. Pre-planning helps remove the burden of decision making at times of crisis. Letting your loved ones know your wishes in advance will help ease tensions and stress for all involved. A death in the family involves a great deal of decision making, paperwork and compromises among families. Having these choices already made makes things easier for everyone left behind.
Assume the financial responsibility. Planning ahead allows you to assume the financial costs of your funeral. This works as an advantage in many ways. It takes the financial burden off your family and also sets the perimeters of your burial and services, which can alleviate disagreements among family members. Additionally, pre-planning allows you to set the pricing of your funeral arrangements now, with no future increase in pricing.
Specify how you want your remains to be managed. Pre-planning allows you to determine preferences for the disposition of your remains and the nature of your funeral services. Working with your funeral planner, you can set the tone, choose the music, the epitaph on your headstone and all of the fine details. You may opt for no services. Pre-planned arrangements allow you to set the guidelines for your family to follow.
Have your affairs in order at the end of your life. Many of us are self-reliant in life and choose to be so at the end of our life, by assuring that our funeral arrangements do not fall onto the shoulders of someone else. Pre-planning and pre-paying for your funeral arrangements will make your passing easier on those you love. It is a fine way to leave a lasting show of your love.
Contact us now to set up an appointment with one of our Funeral Pre-Planning Associates.
Did you know about....The W Connection?
Established in 2009, the W Connection is a nonprofit organization with the goal of making life easier for women who have lost a spouse. The organization was created by widows to equip other widows with the knowledge and skills they will need to rebuild their lives, no matter the stage of life they are in when they experience the death of their spouse. Based on four components, Connection, Encouragement, Education and Empowerment, newsletters, chapter meetings, social activities and other programs and services help guide women through their grief and establishment of a new way of life.
Currently five physical chapters, mostly on the East Coast, work to connect with members and a virtual chapter is on the way which will encourage dialogue and support via online connections.
According to their website, the W Connection "supports women of all ages and at all stages of loss... and works because all members are widows who can bring their own unique experience in support of other widows."
The W Connection's website is www.widowsconnection.org. It may be a place where you, a friend or family member can find the support to help get through such a difficult time.
Are People Avoiding Me?
Grief can be a very lonely time. Yet it is a time when the comfort of another can provide such solace. However, our society has miseducated us about loss and many of us may feel that someone who is grieving wants to be alone. Or, in many cases, we have a fear of saying the wrong thing that can lead to more emotional pain. So we just avoid talking to friends or family members who are grieving.
It is true that cliche remarks can often be misconstrued by someone who is grieving and they also may seek time alone to reflect and deal with their loss. But many people do notice that friends who know about the loss shy away, either not approaching them or not directly discussing the loss.
The fear is on both sides. For those who grieve, they are facing so many fears - being alone, thinking how will they go on without their loved one or will they ever be okay? For friends, the fear is saying or doing something to cause more pain. But worse than fear is isolation, which is the behavioral reaction to fear.
Studies show that grievers most want and need to talk about their loss and their relationship with the one who was lost. Rather than avoiding the subject, it is best to at least acknowledge it - "I am so sorry to hear about your loss." This direct and kind approach can open the door to the griever and allow him/her to walk through on their own terms.
Common Expressions of A Child's Grief - Part Two
What a child feels is often hard to read, especially when they are exposed to the death of a family member or friend. In their world, this emotion is hard to comprehend. They may express their hurt, fear and sadness in a variety of ways, some that don't make sense on the surface. Looking out for these common expressions of grief can be the best way to provide the support they need to get them through.
Guilt: As children often do with any kind of change, they look to see something they may have done to cause the situation. He or she may feel that they are responsible for not being "better" in some way. If they had expressed anger to the person recently, that guilt can be compounded.
Anxiety and Fear: This is probably one of the most common reactions. The child may wonder if someone else they love may die and, if the loved one was a parent, there is an overriding concern as to who will take care of them. Many times a child will cling to loved ones and look for constant validation of their love.
Regression: The child may revert to behaviors he or she had previously outgrown, especially small children. This may include bedwetting, thumb-sucking or other habits they had worked to stop.
Sadness: Quiet is a sure sign of sadness. Inactivity, solitude, all of these are signals that the child is suffering and unable to process his or her grief.
Being on the lookout for these signs can speed up the process of helping a child through the grieving process. As in cases with anyone experiencing the loss of a loved one, the key is being there, listening and trying your best to understand.
Information for this blog was taken from My Careletter and an article reprinted with permission from the SIDS Foundation of Washington .
HELPING YOUR CHILD DEAL WITH LOSS
When a child is affected by loss, it is difficult to know exactly the best way to help them understand. Many people try to avoid the conversation as they feel this will protect the child from the sorrow, believing that they may not be able to cope. As adults struggle with their own grief, children can feel anxious, alone and confused. During this time, children need to be included, even if they are too young for explanations. They need to be surrounded by love. Grief comes in four stages according to experts - Fear, Anger, Guilt and Sadness - these stages affect children as well. Even though they may not vocalize their emotions. In this two part series, we will address some of the common ways that grief can be expressed in children.
Often for a child, the thought of death is too obscure, beyond their understanding. So, they may pretend it didn't happen and act as if it did not. Gently addressing the subject and being a ready ear to listen will help the child feel comfortable asking questions when he or she is ready.
Headaches, stomach pains and other various complaints can be related to the child's confused emotions. Many school aged children will find these ailments occur once they are at school, away from the comfort and company of home. Sometimes, the child will fear that they too will die, especially when the child is older and able to understand the concept of death.
As children are often mostly focused on their own needs, one reaction may be that they are angry with the loved one who is gone, as they may feel they have been left all alone. Sometimes another person or God can also be blamed for letting the person die. Again, listening and loving are the best remedies to help the child through understand his or her anger.
Our next blog will cover additional expressions of grief and how you can help your child through this difficult process of understanding death and loss.
Information for this blog was taken from My Careletter and an article reprinted with permission from the SIDS Foundation of Washington.
RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS MATTER
As a business with more than 90 years of history in the City of Anaheim, we are proud of our town's designation as a City of Kindness. We also take pride in our dedication to kindness and compassion as we deal with those who are grieving. Random Acts of Kindness can make every life just a bit better, especially those who are coming to the end of their life or suffering from an illness that keeps them isolated and lonely. Just a small act can bring about great joy to these individuals. Here are a few suggestions:
Healing Takes Time - Being There Helps
As we conclude this series focusing on ways you can help someone who is grieving, we'll provide a few more guidelines that will help your friend or family member as they go through the mourning process. Time may indeed heal, but it does so in different ways and speeds. Being there and listening is the greatest support you can give.
Share Your Memories - During the early days after a death, there is a tendency to focus on the survivor, while the survivors are focusing on the one who has died. Relating your memories of the deceased, offers a precious memento and shows not only that you care, but that you have taken the time to understand the magnitude of what they have lost.
Recovery Takes Time - A grieving person will not be "over it" in a matter or weeks or even months. Waves of emotion will sweep in for many months and then slowly, the intensity and frequency subsides. It may be a year before you see a significant recovery from grief. However, if over this time, you notice that there is no change in the level of grief, this may be the time to suggest professional help to assist in learning new ways to cope. However, that it is important to find a professional who is experienced in working with the bereaved. Don't assume that clergy or all counselors are experienced in this area. Keep in mind that a grieving person is under extreme stress, trust him/her to know what is best, but do keep a close eye to make sure the healing process is moving forward.
Know that Your Friend Will Always Remember - A tear may always be shed when a special memory is recalled. Your friend or family member is who he or she is today because of having known and loved the person they lost. Denying the past existence of the deceased denies a part of your friend. Love the past as well as the present and all will be better for it.
Suggestions above were taken from My Careletter and reprinted courtesy of Heartlight Magazine. To receive current copies of My Careletter, please contact us.