Sometimes, as a co-worker, friend, family member, or even a spouse, it can be difficult to know what to say and how to support another who has lost someone so dear to them. With that being said, it is my goal to offer you some tips and ideas (beyond the ordinary "take food" or "help with chores") for supporting those who may be grieving.
- Your friend/family member/co-worker/etc will not recover. When we lose a person who is special to us, we often feel that we have lost not only that individual and the life that was shared together, but we may also feel as though we have lost a piece of ourselves as well. Do not confine a person's grief to a certain period of time.
- Patience is a Virtue. You may have noticed that your friend/family member/co-worker/etc. expresses his or her pain and grief in unpredictable ways. Perhaps he or she cries at seemingly random times, or becomes agitated or forgetful. Do not demand this person to "get on with their life". On the other hand, do not avoid them or silently ignore their actions either. Instead, acknowledge their pain, offer a gentle smile or, if you don't know what to do or say, simply say "I really care about you and, while I don't know what to say, I do want you to know that I am here for you."
- Looks Are Deceiving. Your friend/family member/co-worker/etc. may look fabulous and act as though he or she feels great in public, but his or her appearance may not be an accurate representation of how he or she feels inside.
- Memories are Priceless. Help your friend/family member/co-worker/etc. remember his or her loved one by helping them remember the good times they had. Many who experience grief have an intense fear that they will forget their loved one over time. Help relieve that fear by helping him or her keep their loved one's memory alive. You may do this by offering a special journal for him or her to write down memories, or provide copies of any photos or memorabilia that you may have. Send a card or call on special occasions such as the deceased's birthday, anniversary, or other special life events.
- Don't Judge. If you are reading this post with someone in mind and are taking notes, then chances are you will not and have not judged your friend/family member/co-worker/etc. If you have experienced grief yourself, help your friend feel more normal by assuring them that you had the same thoughts or feelings when you lost someone you loved. If you are unable to offer that kind of assurance, simply encourage your friend and let him or her know that you are available to listen. And when you do listen, don't interrupt or say anything that may be interpreted as an attempt at minimizing their loss or pain.
I hope you have found this information helpful!