Feeling helpless about how to help a friend or family member who's mourning a loss? Small acts speak volumes. Caring.com provides this helpful information to help someone who grieving, in simple, thoughtful ways:
There is no need to rush in with words of comfort, especially if they don't come naturally.
Better: Simply make a space, with your companionable silence, for the bereaved to express herself if she chooses.
2. Don't hurry an emotional moment.
A common impulse when someone gets choked up with grief is to change the subject and try to shift to safer emotional ground.
Better: See the moment through. Pause. Offer a hug. Share your own comment about the person who died, if it feels appropriate.
3. Talk about the person who died.
Don't avoid mentioning the person who died; he or she is still very much in the minds of grieving family and friends.
Better: Reminisce or mention how the person inspired you or made you happy. When they naturally come to mind, don't be afraid to say things like, "Wouldn't Susan have loved these flowers?" or, "I can just hear Bill saying, "It's a great day for golf!"
4. Stick to honesty over platitudes.
There's no "right" thing to say to a survivor, but there are plenty of wrong things. (Caring.com also offers advice on 10 Things Never to Say to a Grieving Person).
Better: If you're tongue-tied, acknowledge it. "I don't know what to say. Please know I'm thinking about you." Or, "I can't imagine what each day is like for you now. I'm here for you." To be consoling and compassionate when offering condolences.
5. Don't ask how you can help; just do.
Asking even simple questions ("Do you want me to pick up milk for you?" "What do you like to eat?") puts a burden on the bereaved. Especially soon after the death, someone who's mourning may be physically and emotionally incapable of such decision making.
Better: Simply step in when you see a need: Furnish a meal (ready to eat or freeze, in disposable containers that don't need to be returned), organize regular meal delivery, pick up milk and eggs or fresh bread when you're at the store and leave them in a cooler on the porch, mow the lawn, take care of the car pool, stop by to walk and feed the dog. Think of essential tasks that can be handled unobtrusively.
This content was originally published by Caring.com: 5 Simple Ways to Help Someone Who's Grieving, and is reprinted here with permission.
Caring.com is an online destination for those seeking information and support as they care for aging parents, spouses, and their loved ones. Their mission is to "help the helpers". They equip family caregivers to make better decisions, save time and money, and feel less alone -- and less stressed -- as they face the many challenges of caregiving. Their content is carefully researched and expert-reviewed from a team of more than 50 trusted leaders in geriatric medicine, law, finance, housing, and other key areas of healthcare and eldercare.