Grieving is an intensely personal process. When someone grieves, it may feel, to them, that they are alone in the world bearing a huge burden by themselves. So how do you comfort and support someone who is grieving without trivialising their very real experience?
Recognising that Everyone’s Grief is Unique
Before you rush to offer solace and advice, it is very important that we recognise that how one person deals with grief may be very different to how another copes. Each moment of grief is a unique journey for a person even when that grief is shared (for example, a son and a daughter may grieve very differently over the same parent).
That means we should not seek to cajole or guide someone’s grief but rather to support their needs during the process.
An Open Statement of Support
“I feel your pain and I am here for you.”
The first part of this statement is important “I feel your pain” acknowledges that the grieving person is in pain but takes nothing away from their grief. If, on the other hand, you were to say “I know how you feel” they might feel that you were trivialising or diminishing their experience (even though you didn’t mean it like that) but “I feel your pain” is a non-comparative statement that allows recognition of grief without quantifying it.
“I am here for you” lets the person know that you’re happy to support them without trying to be specific about how they should deal with their grief.
The two halves combine to a powerful whole that provides an offer of support without judgment.
“Would You Like to Talk About Them?”
Many people find that the grieving process can be best managed by talking about the person. They want to celebrate their memories, the stories, the songs, the photos, etc. and they want to share that.
It helps keep the person that passes away alive in their heart.
Some people prefer to think their grief through without talking. That’s OK too. You will often find that when they come together with other mourners that it can be easier for them to talk and celebrate the life of their loved one but they should be given space to decide when the moment is right for them.
“Would You Like a Hug?”
It can be hard for someone to reach out for what they need during their grief. Asking if someone needs a hug or physical reassurance can be a huge help. Even if they don’t need a hug – it can help them better articulate what they do need.
Just Be There
If the person grieving is apparently inward focused, sometimes it can help just to be with them. Don’t say anything. Don’t force them to do anything, just let them know you are near in case they should need to talk, to cry, to hug, etc.
We know what it’s like to handle grief and we know how to help turn grief into a Life Celebration. People don’t have to tackle grief alone and it can be useful to talk to a professional service about the right options to remember your loved one in a positive and constructive way.
Call us today if you’d like to make sure that your loved ones have all the support that they need while they grieve.