How do you support someone who is dealing with the loss of a loved one? What should you say? What should you do? It can be uncomfortable and awkward trying to navigate the intense emotions of grief.
In my ordained minister studies, I took several courses on helping loved ones through the grieving process. If you don’t agree with these tips and suggestions, take what resonates and discard the rest. I’m sharing what I learned and what seems to be Universal in an effort to help.
What you should not say:
- I know how you feel. Even if you’ve had the same type of loss, you really don’t know exactly how the person feels. Saying that you know how the person feels can be perceived as minimizing the loss.
- It is part of God’s plan. People don’t want to hear that when they’re grieving, even if they’re deeply spiritual and believe that God has a plan. The person needs time to sit with their human emotions and process the loss.
- Focus on gratitude. When a person is grieving, they are usually not in that space. It’s okay to grieve and feel the pain. We must feel it to heal it.
- He or she is in a better place. Even if they know that the person is in a better place, they still miss the person’s physical presence. Even in cases of terminal illness, the person grieving is often focused on times when their loved one was well.
- It’s time to get on with your life. Things like this are really insensitive, because we have no idea what that person is experiencing. Plus, a lot of times people are worried that if they move on, it means that they are forgetting about their loved one or that people will think that they are moving on to quickly.
What you should say and do:
- Be with them. Give them your presence, time, love, attention and care. Listen to them. Acknowledge their experience.
- Ask gentle questions about what they’re saying or doing if you don’t understand. Allow the person to have this experience with you.
- Bear witness. You can’t take the pain away. All you can do is offer your presence.
- Do what you can for that person. When we tell the person to call if they need anything, it doesn’t help much because usually, the person doesn’t know what they need. They are overwhelmed with emotion. The best thing to do is just bring them a meal, go pick their kids up from school, or do what needs need to be done. Instead of asking, just tell them what you are going to do.
- Send them love and healing. When you are meditating, focus upon loving kindness and sending them love. You can imagine pink loving energy coming from your heart and going to their heart. Shower them with love, kindness, and compassion. I have many meditations to help with this on my YouTube channel.
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