The majority of people see death as a negative thing because it takes your loved ones away. I have experienced the grief of losing someone quite a few times and it is not easy at all.
Even though the feelings might be different, I have grieved the loss of my grandparents, dogs and my friends’ family members. It is clear that death comes with big lifestyle changes, especially because it is an irreversible process. And while people that grieve the ones they have lost, their friends want to support them.
But, how can you help someone that has so many negative emotions and feelings? People whose family members die are depressed, hopeless, angry, guilty and sad.
All these emotions might urge them to isolate themselves from others and live alone with their pain. Getting used to a loved-ones death is difficult, but if your friends and family support you, you can get through it.
Studies show that people who lose a family member get support from friends for a limited amount of time. Social support is easily mobilized after the event, but it is not maintained in the following months and people that grieve often find themselves lonely.
There are a few things you can do to support someone who experiences a loved one’s death. Everything you do and say can make a difference and it can make them feel better. But not all things are appropriate in grieving moments, so you need to be careful not to intensify the negative emotions.
1. Reach Out to Them
I have recently found myself in an uncomfortable situation. The father of a colleague of mine died of cancer. It was a rapid and sudden death and no one was expecting it, especially not my colleague. His father was close to his son and his friends (including me) the news left me speechless.
Even though I did not know what to say and how to help, I have reached out to my colleague and I tried to comfort him. It is wise to accept that no matter what you say, you cannot bring someone back to life. But reaching out to the family members that are now deeply sad is more than helpful.
They will know that you are there to support and help them cope with this situation. Knowing that there is someone that understands and feels your pain can prove to be more than comforting. This can really help someone cope with the loss.
2. Find Your Way to Express Your Love
There is no right way to express your condolences in this kind of situation. The most common perception is that no matter what you say or do, you cannot help the bereaved ones. But even though you do not know what to say, simply supporting the bereaved is helpful.
My grandfather died after I graduated from high school. He was very ill and his death was very painful. But everything that my friends did help me to get through it. I had received messages of sorrow, a yoga subscription at a local sports club, flowers, books, pampering products, etc. I also received old articles written by my grandfather (he was a well-known journalist).
Ultimately this made me understand that people have different ways of showing love and regret and supporting grieving people. You have your own way of doing this.
You need to keep in mind one important thing. Do not let your doubts regarding your way of showing regret and love refrain you from doing something for someone experiencing a loved one’s death.
I did not use my yoga subscription immediately but after two months. But it helped me reconnect with myself and accept the death of my grandfather. Find ways to express your love. Everything you do or say will make a difference.
3. Listen to Them
The society helped us develop problem-solving skills and also the need to always reply. Bereaved people need space and someone to listen to them. To be empathic and to be there when they want to talk with someone.
They will find ways to express their pain and no matter what you say you cannot take the pain away. But you can comfort and let them express their feelings and emotions. Give them space and time, it is unlikely that you can say or do something magical. And most importantly, listen to them and be there when they need you.
4. Acknowledge That The Situation Is Bad
There are unhealthy behaviours that we all have. And phrases we should definitely not use in some cases and this is one of them. The passing of a loved one can be a real trauma for some people and telling them that things could be worse is not helping them at all.
I had really found comfort and support when people acknowledged that the situation is really bad. It hurts and it comes with pain. Give them space and let them cry. Crying helps them release their feelings and emotions, so encourage them to cry. It is okay to remain silent and just be there reassuring them.
5. Set Up A Plan For The Worst
Accepting the idea that a family member has died takes time. Your entire routine is disturbed and you cannot find things that bring you joy. I have often found myself feeling hopeless and deeply sad. But the fact that I had an SOS system with my friends saved me.
Understandably, they could not move in with me and nor did I request that. But when I was feeling really really bad, I texted them and they would show up at my place.
To support a person whose family member has died you need to be there for them when they need you. You need to be prepared to support them when they need and offer comfort and trust.
6. Put Things into Action
Besides saying “I will be there for you”, try putting words into action. If you notice that the bereaved have difficulty in doing their daily chores, like picking up the children from kindergarten on a specific day, try to do this for them.
Slowly, they will accept the idea that their family member has died and they will return to their lifestyle. But this takes time because everyone processes grief differently and the first few days are the most difficult.
7. Share Your Daily Experiences
I have realized that grief took control of my brain when I had some chatting with my friends. They shared their daily experiences, some of which made me laugh. Their stories distracted me for some moments and made me feel good and forget all the negative thoughts.
Doing this periodically helped me overcome difficult moments and it always reminded me that life is painful, but it is also beautiful. Those moments helped me become stronger. They were the glimpse of hope I needed, so do not be afraid to share your experiences.
Do not be afraid to make a bereaved person laugh. They will appreciate your effort and it will allow them to accept and overcome difficult moments.
Experiencing a loved one’s death is difficult. Your routine is disturbed and you barely find ways to cope with the loss. You firstly refuse to believe that this is happening to you, but you slowly begin to accept the change afterward.
If someone you know goes through this kind of situation, you can do a few things to help them. Reach out to them and be supportive. Do not be afraid to make them laugh and share your story. Find ways to express your love and help them with their chores.
Give them space, listen and acknowledge that the situation is bad. Be there when they need you the most.