It is not always easy to know how to help someone cope with a loss. You may feel awkward or unsure of the best way to offer support, but it is essential for you to try anyway. There are many different ways we can be there for each other and show our love in difficult times like these. This blog post will cover some of those things you can do, as well as tips on what not to say when trying to offer support.
#1 Show up
Some days it is hard to find the words, but there are so many ways you can show that you care. Show up with a meal or some flowers and spend time just listening to what they have to say. Try talking about how difficult it can be to start a conversation with someone coping with the loss of a loved one and that you may feel awkward or unsure of what is appropriate.
Keep in mind that not everyone finds comfort in talking openly about their feelings right away. Give them space for grieving as needed, but also try to engage them periodically, so they know that people are there for them when they need support (e.g., “I’m here whenever you’re ready.”).
#2 Help out with tasks
Offer to do a chore that they would typically have to do themselves (e.g., go grocery shopping, cook dinner). You can also do some research on resources for grief counseling in your area so you can share later if the person wants help finding someone who specializes in supporting people coping with loss.
#3 Take on some responsibilities
If they have children, offer to watch them for a few hours so the parent can take some time away from their responsibilities. You can also offer to help with planning a memorial service or Funeral Flags. Again, you don’t need any experience in order to do this – simply offer your time and listen when it comes up during conversations that people may not know what’s happening next because they are still coming to terms with everything else. “I’m sorry” is always appropriate after someone mentions their loss of a loved one – just make sure you’re actually acknowledging how hard it must be.”It sounds like this has been really difficult for you,” or “Thank you for being brave enough to share all these thoughts”.
#4 Offer Space
You may not know how a person is coping with their feelings, so you might want to provide them with some space in order to get back on track. Offer the other party an out if they are feeling overwhelmed or all of this attention doesn’t seem helpful at that moment. You can say, “I’m here when you’re ready,” and wait for them to come around before resuming the conversation. Expressing interest in what they have going on during these struggles will help keep communication open and remind them that there are people who care about what’s happening in their life.” How has your day been?” or “It sounds like it hasn’t been easy lately” may help them open up from time to time as everyone should.
What you should not do
Don’t offer up any words of advice. It’s hard to know what someone is going through, so avoid making suggestions that may come off as insensitive. Instead, simply be a listening ear and wait for them to open up about their feelings when they are ready. Also, avoid getting too involved in the person’s situation unless it becomes clear that this is something either one of you wants help with or if they need emotional support during a challenging time (e.g., funeral). Avoid talking about yourself or your own losses – we all have our fair share, and there will be plenty of opportunities to talk.
“It’s ok.” is also another phrase that should rather be left unsaid. This response may leave the other party feeling like there is no way out or that this is it forever – which simply isn’t true! There are many ways we can cope with our feelings and process what has happened over time. For example, saying, ‘I know how you feel.’
It’s not always easy to know what to do when we see that our friends are struggling emotionally and don’t seem like they want to talk about what’s going on. We might not know how to help, or we may feel like they don’t want our support. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do!