In assessing the needs of your grieving person, it helps to fully grasp the conditions surrounding the death. Don’t assume the death of an aged grandparent will be felt the same as one of a 5yr. old child.
“She is out of pain now,” “It must have been her time,” along with “All things always work out for the higher good,” are unlikely to be helpful. Bear in mind, you’ll find no prepared phrases which will take away the person’s pain of their loss.
Words To Avoid Like the Plague:
“Time heals all wounds.” (Merely the passage of time alone does not heal, though it can help. Individuals do need time, but at the same time they need to experience the various stages of grief.)
“There must have been a reason.” (Perhaps not, or at least not a reason that will ever be known or be comprehended by the people left behind.)
Good Things to Say:
“It must be hard to accept.” (Listen about the what’s making it difficult.)
“You must have been very close to her.” (The bereaved can then share stories from their relationship.)
Don’t Think That You Must Have “Something to Say.”
Being there for them is enough. Especially with new grief, your embrace, your touch, as well as your sincere sadness are all that the bereaved might need. Make it a point to call or spend time with the bereaved, regardless of how much time has passed after the death. Your caring will be greatly appreciated.
Take the Initiative
Avoid simply saying, “If there’s anything I can do, you can always ask.” Make suggestions and specific offers of help. For Instance, you might say, “I’d be happy to tend to your lawn next Saturday afternoon at (pick a time.) Would that be all right with you?” or “Might I go grocery shopping with you the first time out?” Each caring gesture reminds the survivor he or she is not alone and keeps him/her from having to consistently reach out for assistance. It also lets loved one know you feel that he or she continues to be important. Our ego is often low during the early stages of grief, and knowing someone cares enough to assist does good things for the morale.
Help Out With Daily Tasks
You may offer to run errands, screen calls, cook dinner or take care of the laundry. These normally small tasks seem insurmountable to the bereaved, because grief drastically reduces physical strength. An offer to spend an evening just watching t.v. together is likely very restoring, especially to someone now having to live alone.
Offer Help With the Kids
If kids are involved, they would appreciate it if you would send them greeting cards and invite them on family events. Children must not be shielded from grief, but on occasion they need a break away from the sadness at home, while their surviving parent may welcome the time for grieving alone. Express your love and support, as well as asking the children to share their thoughts and emotions. They also appreciate good listeners, and kind words from a caring adult goes a long way towards helping them heal. It would be a mistake to assume that any grieving person who appears calm, especially a child, is fine.
A bereaved individual desperately desires a listener, who is accepting, supportive, and willing to listen with patience to often repetitive stories. The compulsion to “share the story” decreases as the healing process moves forward. Along with every time the story is told, the finality of death sinks in a little more. When feelings of anger, disappointment, anxiety and sadness are released, be accepting of those emotions. When the bereaved keeps them bottled up inside, they will bring to a screaming halt the healing process. Expressing open thoughts and feelings eases the anxiety. The heightened stress levels experienced during early grief can lead to health difficulties for some individuals. Help your loved one remain healthy by listening.
Permit the Expression of Guilt Feelings
A healthy response to hearing someone express grief is often to respond with by saying, “It’s not your fault. There was nothing you could have done.” Don’t try to rescue people from their feelings of guilt, because are natural and not unusual during the grief process. (What most survivors really think is regret. Guilt implies they did something on purpose to cause injury; we feel regret if we wish we had somehow been able to change things.)
Make it Possible for the Survivor to Grieve In His/Her Own Way
Avoid pushing the mourner to “get over” the loss. If he decides to go jogging or lift weights to release energy and stress, encourage him. If he feels the need to look at old pictures or go through every article on grief he can locate, help him.
Allow For Mood Changes
Assume there will be both good and bad days for quite awhile. These highs and lows are a part of the process. These feelings have been described as waves that sweep in uncontrollably. Steadily the good days happen more often, but bad ones will happen even a year or more after the death of a loved one. Don’t make the assumption that the grieving individual to have gotten “over it” within a number of weeks. Vast waves of emotion may sweep in for many months and then, slowly, steadily, the intensity reduces. It doesn’t happen immediately after the funeral or even two months after it, as many individuals believe.
Talk Openly About the Deceased
During the first several months after someone dies, people tend to concentrate on the survivors, while the survivors themselves are concentrating on the one who died. By Sharing your stories of the deceased, you are offering a precious memento to the heart-broken person. Your love and concern are clear in not only in the things that you share, but by the fact that you took the time to do so.
Click this video on conducting funerals.