Few things are more sad or difficult than finding out that a loved one has suffered a personal loss. Many times we fail to reach out to a loved one who is grieving out of shyness or uncertainty. We worry that we don’t have the words, or know what we can do to help or console our friend.
Many times, it’s easier to offer a virtual hug or send a text instead of picking up the phone or talking face-to-face. Of course, the most difficult things for us to do are what can be the most helpful to a person in mourning.
When someone is grieving, they tend to hear clichés such as: “They’re in a better place”, “at least they’re not suffering” and “it was his time”. Instead of a cliché, offer an ear. Ask them about their loved one by name (“Tell me about Jim”) and encourage them to talk about their memories.
If you knew the deceased, you can offer a great deal of condolence by sharing positive memories that perhaps your loved one was unaware of.
Give a Gift or Memento
Simple gestures such as a card, a plant or other small gift can bring comfort to your friend or relative in their time of grief. It also can be easier to approach them if you have a small card or gift in tow. If your loved one is a person of faith, then be sure to get an appropriately themed card or book to encourage them to lean on their faith. Be mindful not to use scriptures as a cliché. While “all things work together for good” may be biblical truth, it also may not be helpful if it’s used to minimize the pain of loss.
Offer Help and Hope
Instead of saying “let me know how I can help”, offer specific help such as bringing a meal on a particular day, running an errand for them or helping with child care or housework. You can also ask, “What can I do to help?” If you are offering help, be sure you mean it. Don’t offer to help in an area unless you really want to do so.
Offer hope by believing in their ability to move forward. You can also offer to take your loved one to a grief support group at their church or a local Meetup group. It can help the bereaved to talk or listen to others going through the same thing.
Check in with them later
With our own busy lives, it can be difficult to remember to follow up, so set a reminder on your phone or calendar to check up on your friend down the road. Give them a call or drop by to visit them and see how they’re doing. Often there is an outpouring of support immediately following a death; however, the grieving will go on for many weeks, months, or even years. Checking in weeks and months later, especially near anniversaries or other important dates, can be very comforting and supportive.
With a little love and support, you can help your loved one on their journey through the grieving process.
Grief and loss are hard and sometimes getting counseling can be helpful. If you or a loved one could use professional support after a loss, feel free to reach out to me at 919-891-0525 today for a free, 15-minute consultation. Appointments may be scheduled for my Wake Forest counseling office or online.