It might be tough to know what to say or do to help someone you care about who is grieving following a loss. Many powerful and unpleasant emotions, such as melancholy, rage, guilt, and profound sadness, plague the bereaved. They often feel alonly and alone in their mourning, since the severe pain and challenging emotions make people hesitant to provide assistance.
You could be worried about intruding, saying the wrong thing, or making your loved one feel even worse during this tough time. Or perhaps you believe there is little you can do to improve matters. That’s very understandable. However, don’t let your discomfort stop you from reaching out or offering help to someone who is grieving. Your loved one needs your help now more than ever.
You don’t have to have all the answers, give all the advice, or say and do everything correctly. Simply being present for someone who is grieving is the most important thing you can do to help them. Your presence and support will help your loved one in coping with the agony and gradually begin to heal.
How to Help Someone Who Is Grieving the Loss of a Spouse
Losing a spouse alters a person’s life for the rest of their life. It might be difficult to know what to say or how to soothe and support someone you care about when they lose a loved one. This is particularly true if you have not yet experienced the loss of a loved one. There are a number of things you may do to help someone who is grieving the loss of a spouse:
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#1. Don’t go away
Many individuals will be there in the days leading up to the funeral or memorial ceremony to keep the grieving company and provide help. People will go back to their normal routines after the service. Your friend or loved one may require your assistance the most at this time. Maintain your availability for as long as possible. You might also encourage your pals to come over and call frequently.
#2. Don’t be a stickler for details
Allow the bereaved to express their feelings regarding their loved ones. Listen attentively. Elderly spouses, in particular, will most likely wish to chat about their spouses and relate anecdotes about them. Encourage children to write down or tape their recollections so that they can share them.
#3. Don’t try to manage the situation:
You might be tempted to take charge of the entire planning process. This may be suitable depending on the situation, but keep in mind the feelings of the person grieving the loss of a spouse. In order to move through grief, he or she may need to keep control.
#4. Don’t force a schedule
Everyone recovers at their own pace. You can’t expect everything to return to “normal” in a specific amount of time. Consult a professional if you are concerned that the bereaved is not recovering or if you are concerned about their well-being.
#5. Don’t bring up the misfortunes of others
Allow the spouse to concentrate on his or her loss. Attempting to relate what the person is going through to yourself or another person is ineffective and may give the appearance that you are diminishing the individual’s feelings.
#6. Don’t pressure the spouse to “move on”
Every person’s grieving is different. When the grieving person is ready, they will remove their wedding band or clean up the deceased’s things. When that time comes, remember to keep their sentiments in mind and avoid the “swoop and dispose of” attitude.
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#7. Make yourself available
Being there for someone who is grieving the loss of a spouse is often the most effective method to help them. Allow them to express their emotions. Don’t stress about how you’ll react; just try to be understanding. It is critical that you spend as much time as possible with the elderly without becoming obtrusive.
#8. Be patient
Listen to the narrative again, even if you’ve previously heard it. Expect fits and starts as well. You may have thought your friend or loved one had taken a step forward only to discover that they had taken a step back. This is entirely normal.
#9. Help with arranging or household chores
If you can think of a task that might be beneficial to someone who is grieving, go ahead and do it. You can offer aid, but many individuals will be hesitant to accept your offer. Take charge of something that will assist you, such as yard work, cooking, cleaning, or transportation. Let them know you’re available to watch their kids or help them in other ways if they need some alone time.
#10. Maintain contact
Send cards on a regular basis and keep birthdays and anniversaries in mind. Continue to help where you can. Invite the person out frequently, but don’t expect all of your invitations to be accepted. It may be soothing to be at home in familiar surroundings.
How to Help Someone Who Is Grieving a Pet
Because many pets are more deeply linked to one family member than another, family members often grieve differently after a pet dies. Because they have never had a pet of their own, many individuals are at a loss on how to help someone who is grieving a pet. Here are some ideas for how you might help or support someone who is grieving the death of a pet:
#1. Encourage grieving that is healthy
It’s vital to remember that mourning is a natural reaction to the death of a pet and that everyone reacts differently to the variety of emotions that accompany it. The five phases of grief are probably familiar to you: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Let your friend know you’re there to listen and that grieving for a pet is just as natural as grieving for a person. Allow the pet owner to express her emotions and the unique link she shared with the animal.
#2. Help them in taking care of themselves.
People who are grieving frequently lose sight of their own physical and mental well-being. You may help by providing comfortable and wholesome foods, such as fruits and vegetables or a hot bowl of soup, as well as other requirements. You could also offer to help with difficult activities, such as gathering up the pet’s ashes or packing away the pet’s toys.
#3. Say the appropriate things
When it comes to speaking the correct things, it’s important to avoid saying the wrong things. These include, among other things, asking when the person will get another animal, downplaying the loss by saying it was “only a dog” or “just a cat,” advising the individual to go on, or claiming that sadness is the reason you don’t have pets. It’s great if you provide your affection and a listening ear.
#4. Remember the good old days
When you have a happy memory of your pet to share, words can sometimes help. Dr. Marty Becker writes that recalling memories might be difficult at first. However, they can subsequently make someone grin or chuckle at a beloved pet’s antics, such as the things the dog chewed up as a puppy, what it was like to bring the pet home for the first time, or their delight over a place they both enjoyed visiting.
#5. Make a suggestion for a support group.
If your friend is still grieving after some time, Dr. Patty Khuly suggests suggesting a pet loss support group. Many localities have these groups, and your veterinarian may be able to help you in the right direction. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Tufts University both have pet bereavement hotlines, and pet memorial websites include staffed pet loss support chat rooms.
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How to Help Someone Who Is Grieving the Loss of a Parent
Death and loss are tough topics to discuss, and many people find themselves at a loss for words when attempting to console someone who has been bereaved, even if it is a close family member or a dear friend. You may want to help but are afraid of saying “the wrong thing.” Here are some suggestions for how you might help someone who is grieving the loss of a parent.
#1. Recognize the loss and don’t avoid making contact.
It’s reasonable to be hesitant to talk about death or other losses for fear of saying the wrong thing, but being silent or failing to contact someone after a bereavement can exacerbate feelings of isolation and despair. Reaching out to the bereaved individual and letting them know that you are willing to talk and listen if they want to can be really beneficial.
#2. Consider the best way to communicate.
There are several methods to grieve, as well as various ways to communicate after a loss. Receiving text messages may be more manageable than returning phone calls. Visiting them in person may be beneficial to some, but it may be inconvenient for others. Rather than making assumptions, it’s better to ask the person what they want.
#3. Discuss the person who passed away.
It can feel as if a person is erased from people’s minds after they die. While you may be afraid that talking about the deceased person would only bring up terrible memories, many individuals find that talking about the person’s memory is a comfort and a method of integrating the memory of the person who has died into their lives rather than putting it away. “Tell me about a time [the person who has died] made you laugh,” or “What is your best recollection of [the person who has died]?”
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#4. Focus on listening.
Respect what the grieving person chooses to share with you and concentrate on listening rather than asking questions. Allow the bereaved individual to express themselves if they want to, while remaining sensitive if they don’t.
#5. Pay special attention to the bereaved person.
Rather than returning to your own sentiments about the loss, try to keep the focus on the bereaved individual. Making analogies with your own experiences may not be helpful unless you have personal experience with bereavement.
#6. Help them in seeking extra assistance.
Supporting a grieving person can be difficult, so it’s important to look into what alternative resources are available. Help them investigate further support options, such as those listed on our valuable contacts page, if they are ready and interested.
How to Help Someone Who Is Grieving the Loss of a Loved One
You might want to help a friend or family member after a loved one passes away, but you don’t know-how. Each person’s grieving is unique, and what they require may shift over time as days, weeks, months, and years pass. Here are some suggestions for assisting someone who is mourning the loss of a loved one.
#1. Tell a narrative or reminisce about something that happened to you.
If you know the person who died, you might wish to share a tale or memory about them, or even a photo of them from a time when you spent time together. It’s best to choose a nice narrative that focuses on the person who died rather than what you said or did.
#2. Support them in the days leading up to the funeral.
Even if you didn’t know the deceased, you might want to attend the funeral to show your support for a grieving friend or family member. Inquire as to whether they would like you to attend. If you won’t be able to attend the funeral, you could send a text on the day to express your condolences.
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#3. Invite them to participate in activities with you.
You may invite the person out for coffee or a drink, suggest taking a walk together; or go to a concert, theater, or exhibition together. If making promises in advance puts them under too much stress, you may simply offer them the opportunity to participate in activities you’ll be doing anyhow if they can make it.
#4. Plan activities with them
Continue to invite the bereaved individual to participate in activities with you. You might even plan things for the future together, such as scheduling a trip or purchasing event tickets. They’ll have something to look forward to in the months ahead, and they’ll know you’ll be there for them.
#5. Pay attention to key occasions and events.
A grieving individual will have to deal with birthdays, Christmas, and holidays without their friend or relative for the first time in the months after their death. Other items, like as annual events or activities they normally did at a given time of year, may also be present.
A hug, a listening ear, and a sympathetic presence are the best things to help someone who is grieving. Your friend’s pain will not be alleviated by any combination of words. Don’t stress about saying the proper thing because, quite frankly, there isn’t one. Grief can consume you completely. It’s enough to simply be present and offer love and kindness.
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Don’t wait to seek help if you or someone you know has acquired a drug or alcohol addiction as a result of bereavement. The Recovery Village is a compassionate facility that treats addiction as well as co-occurring mental health disorders like difficult grieving. Call today to speak with a knowledgeable representative about recovery.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you comfort someone who is grieving?
If you’re at a loss for words, simply make eye contact, squeeze their hand, or give them a warm hug. Offer your assistance. Inquire about what you can do to assist the grieving individual. Offer to help with a specific activity, such as funeral arrangements, or simply be there to hang out with or lend a sympathetic ear.
What are the 7 stages of grief after a death?
Grief has seven stages.
- Shock. Even if we believe we have had enough time to prepare for the loss of a loved one, shock is inescapable in nearly every case.
- Acceptance and optimism
- Grief processing
How do you console someone?
7 Ways to Console Someone Who Is Having a Bad Day
- Make a point of being there for them. We put ourselves out there for the people we care about.
- Tell them (and show them) how much you care.
- Make them aware that you are thinking of them.
- Take the time to pay attention.
- Hugs can speak for themselves
- Share your memories with others.
- Continue to offer assistance.
What to text a friend who is grieving?
Mourning Texts Examples
- I just wanted to let you know that I’m thinking about you, praying for you, and grieving alongside you.
- If you ever need to talk, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
- My deepest sympathies are extended to you and your family.
- Is it possible for me to deliver you something?
- I’m sad to hear about your loss.
- I just wanted to share with you my favorite photo of [name].