7 Tips to Support a Grieving Person
Each of us is our own self. No rule holds true for everyone in grief. A lot of people don’t know what to say when a friend, colleague, or even a family member looses someone to death. “I’m sorry,” is good.
These simple guidelines can help you to support rather than irritate. They are founded in neurology and supported by my personal experience.
1. Keep noise to a minimum.
Screaming children, loud music, even the vacuum can be irritating beyond belief.
Solace is generally what is needed.
2. Trying to “cheer up” your loved one is generally offensive at best.
We must process grief through the various systems in the body.
Instead of prodding your loved one to look on the bright side or to get up and exercise, simply be with your loved one. Words may come from them.
Let your words be few.
3. Saying things like; “He had a long, full life,” or “her quality of life would have been very poor” may be true, yet show you have no understanding of the loss that is being felt.
The issue is what is – loss and grief, not what was or might have been.
4. Keep your opinions and suggestions to yourself. Prodding a grieving individual into action when she needs to sit and process the grief makes it harder to process. Her system is
handling things as best it can. Your suggestions add more to process and make it harder to
grieve. Follow her lead.
5. Bring your friend water, to stay hydrated, and food to provide energy. There is a tremendous
amount of internal activity going on and your grieving friend is exhausted. Sweets are a
classic food for those in grief because they provide much needed energy. If these aren’t
part of his diet, perhaps dates and nuts will be acceptable.
6. This is not the time for questions and criticism. Even simple things like; “why did you do that?”
or “why didn’t you do it this way?” may get you a nasty reply. He’s doing all he can. If you
want to help, gently pick up the slack and do not criticize.
7. Your loved one may not want to be touched or hugged. Follow her cues and you will be
supporting. It’s most likely that she will want to be touched. When that touch brings a
flood of tears, just hold her. Your presence and touch are helping.
If it’s been over a month and there is no sign of improvement, help is needed.