Dealing with death and the loss of a loved one is often one of the hardest things a person can go through.
Grief affects everyone differently. Some people find themselves trying to stay busy and distracted so they don’t dwell on their sadness every hour of the day; others feel the need to talk about the person who has passed to make them feel closer to them and find comfort in remembering their time together.
Knowing what to say to someone who is dealing with grief can be difficult. There is the desire to comfort them and help them to feel better, but words of comfort at times like this can feel empty.
“Everything will be ok” can have little meaning to a person who has lost someone they cared for and loved deeply. The truth is, for them, it does not remotely feel like ‘everything will be ok’ any time soon.
Likewise, telling someone their grief will pass can be of little help when they are so deep in the throes of sadness.
There are things you can do though – ways to help – that go a long way towards making life a little easier for that person as they deal with such a difficult time in their life.
Offer to help with funeral arrangements
As confronting as it might sound, helping to alleviate some of the pressure from this task goes a long way. Planning a funeral is incredibly difficult for many people who just aren’t in the right state of mind to deal with the logistics and organising that needs to go into it.
When Barbra lost her husband seven years ago, she was grief-stricken and barely able to make herself breakfast in the morning, let alone plan a funeral. She says the help she received from her close friends made all the difference and helped her get through the day.
“I didn’t know where to start and couldn’t even bare the thought of planning John’s funeral,” she said. “A couple of my close friends called different funeral parlours and arranged meetings for me. They organised the flowers and did most of the planning for the wake, too. I did what I could, but I could barely think straight. Having their help and really just asking for ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers from me made all the difference.”
Take over meals
It’s a simple gesture, but can make all the difference. Most of us have observed friends or family who struggle to find an appetite and even lose weight during this stressful time. Delivering a home-cooked meal is just one way to make things a little easier for them and save them the trouble of having to think and plan for weekly dinners.
Call to check up on them
Whether you find they want to talk they’re feelings or not, calling to check in is a thoughtful gesture that can really make a difference in a person’s day. Barbra says there were some days when she was alone in the house after John passed and a call from a friend was just what she needed.
“Sometimes I was missing John so badly that I just wanted to talk about him with someone. When my friends or family called it was great to be able to get it all off my chest and know they wanted to hear me out. Sometimes I would hold back on calling people myself because I didn’t want to pile all of my grief and tears onto them. When they called me I felt like it gave me permission to talk openly about how I was feeling and knew it wouldn’t make them uncomfortable.
“The friends who took the time to call me even just once a week to check up on me are the people I treasure most today.”
Be open to talking about the past
It can be tricky to know when a person wants to talk about the loved one they’ve lost, but don’t be afraid to bring up their name and talk about the happy memories. After the initial grief has passed, many people find they enjoy talking about the person they have lost. It’s perfectly ok if you feel you need to wait until they initiate the conversation, but take pride in the fact they have chosen to talk about it with you and be open to sharing your own memories, too.
For many people, there’s nothing better than hearing about how a loved one touched the lives of other people too, and knowing their legacy still lives on through others.