Grief is different for each one of us and that uniqueness requires respect and honoring. There is not a right or wrong way to grieve. There is not a right or wrong amount of time for a person to grieve. Everyone is different. Most importantly during grief it is okay to not be okay.
As a support for your loved ones who may be experiencing grief it is important for you to let them know that you are safe for them to just be.
Some useful tips on what to say or what to do:
Allow your loved one to express what’s going on and let them set the tone for how to talk about it. Do not offer praise for what may look like strength on their part. Most people in the initial stages of grief believe it necessary to show others they are “strong” when in fact they are hurting deeply. Do not offer unsolicited advice.
Grief is an individualized experience. Try to show them empathy at all times. By doing so, you’ll be cultivating an environment of kindness, understanding and comfort.
What to say to someone who has lost a loved one.
It is common to feel awkward when trying to comfort someone who is grieving. Many people do not know what to say or do. The following are suggestions to use as a guide.
Acknowledge the situation. Example: "I heard that your_____ died." Use the word "died" That will show that you are more open to talk about how the person really feels.
Express your concern. Example: "I'm sorry to hear that this happened to you."
Be genuine in your communication and don't hide your feelings. Example: "I’m not sure what to say, but I want you to know I care."
Offer your support. Example: "Tell me what I can do for you."
Ask how he or she feels, and don't assume you know how the bereaved person feels on any given day.
Source: American Cancer Society
Comments to avoid when comforting the bereaved.
"I know how you feel." One can never know how another may feel. You could, instead, ask your friend to tell you how he or she feels.
"It's part of God's plan." This phrase can make people angry and they often respond with, "What plan? Nobody told me about any plan."
"Look at what you have to be thankful for." They know they have things to be thankful for, but right now they are not important.
"He's in a better place now." The bereaved may or may not believe this. Keep your beliefs to yourself unless asked.
"This is behind you now; it's time to get on with your life." Sometimes the bereaved are resistant to getting on with because they feel this means "forgetting" his or her loved one. In addition, moving on is easier said than done. Grief has a mind of its own and works at its own pace.
Statements that begin with "You should" or "You will." These statements are too directive. Instead you could begin your comments with: "Have you thought about..." or "You might..."
Source: American Hospice Foundation
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