Wednesday, September 28, 2011

With Heartfelt Sympathy

A really good friend of mine lost her husband suddenly yesterday afternoon.  While he had been ill for quite a while, things had been going along just fine ... until they weren't.  It is never easy hearing those words that someone you love has died ... or that someone you care about has lost a loved one.  It happens to all of us at some point. My friend is fortunate in that she has a wonderful and loving family and a multitude of close friends to help her through this tragic and vulnerable time.  My heart goes out to her and I hope she knows that I am here for her.

It can be tough to know what to say or do when someone you care about is grieving. It’s common to feel helpless, awkward, or unsure. You may be afraid of intruding, saying the wrong thing, or making the person feel even worse. Or maybe you feel there’s little you can do to make things better.  While you can’t take away the pain of the loss, you can provide much-needed comfort and support. There are many ways to help a grieving friend or family member, starting with letting the person know you care.   I found these helpful suggestions ...

Practical Help

There are many practical ways you can help a grieving person. You can offer to:

Shop for groceries or run errands

Drop off a casserole or other type of food

Help with funeral arrangements

Stay in their home to take phone calls and receive guests

Help with insurance forms or bills

Take care of housework, such as cleaning or laundry

Watch their children or pick them up from school

Drive them wherever they need to go

Look after their pets

Go with them to a support group meeting

Accompany them on a walk

Take them to lunch or a movie

Share an enjoyable activity (game, puzzle, art project)

The Grief Process
The better your understanding of grief and how it is healed, the better equipped you’ll be to help a bereaved friend or family member. 

There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Grief does not always unfold in orderly, predictable stages. It can be an emotional rollercoaster, with unpredictable highs, lows, and setbacks. Everyone grieves differently, so avoid telling the bereaved what they “should” be feeling or doing.

Grief may involve extreme emotions and behaviors. Feelings of guilt, anger, despair, and fear are common. A grieving person may yell to the heavens, obsess about the death, lash out at loved ones, or cry for hours on end. The bereaved need reassurance that what they’re feeling is normal. Don’t judge them or take their grief reactions personally.

There is no set timetable for grieving. For many people, recovery after bereavement takes 18 to 24 months, but for others, the grieving process may be longer or shorter. Don’t pressure the bereaved to move on or make them feel like they’ve been grieving too long.

If anyone wants to share what has helped them through the loss of a love one, I would love to hear your kind words. 


onecraftymama said...

I have been lucky enough to not go through this, but I really appreciate this advice for how I can help others. Thanks, Lillian, and my heart goes out to your friend.

Gloria said...

This is such sad news! My deepest sympathy goes out to Marcia and the others mourning the loss of her husband.

Hugs to Marcia!