23rd January 2022
If a friend, partner, or family member has lost someone close to them, it can be hard to know what to say or do. Of course, everyone does their best, and always means well, but sometimes we can unknowingly make people feel worse about their situation. Supporting someone who is grieving is a delicate, challenging process, so if you are in this situation and need some pointers about what to do and not do, this blog post walks you through four pointers that are useful to keep in mind.
Listen More, Speak Less
It can be tempting to try and “say the right thing”, but this often backfires. You should generally avoid making suggestions about what your bereaved loved one should or shouldn’t do. While these snippets are always delivered with the best intentions, they can often cause the person more distress.
In the same way, trying to explain or contextualise the loss – saying things like “they’re in a better place now” – is far less useful than simply displaying basic empathy, acknowledging that this must be a hard time for them and giving that person the space to vocalise their feelings.
Accept Mood Swings
Keep in mind that a grieving person can often oscillate between different moods quite quickly. They may be extremely talkative at one moment, then go quiet all of a sudden. This is a normal part of the grieving process, and it is important that you are able to cope – and lean into – these rapid changes in mood. Someone may just want to sit in silence for a while, or perhaps they need you to listen to what’s on their mind. Whatever state they are in, being able to handle that person’s emotions is such an important form of support.
Offer Practical Support
Reaching out to give practical support is an extremely helpful thing for someone who is grieving. The person who has died may have handled certain roles that are now the sole responsibility of your loved one, causing them additional stress. On top of that, grief makes it hard to stay on top of the minutiae of everyday life, so take some time to offer your helping hand in whatever they might need. This could include helping with children or pets, cleaning, assisting with meals, accompanying them on certain outings, or giving them a place to stay – especially if they live alone.
Don’t Assume They Have “Moved On”
As an experienced bereavement counsellor in Harrogate and online, I know that one of the biggest misconceptions people have around loved ones dying is that there is some kind of ‘timescale’ on how long they grieve for. Not everyone grieves in the same way, and some people can start struggling a long time after the fact. As a result, never assume that they are okay because a certain amount of time has passed. Check in on them regularly; ask how they are feeling about the bereavement and if there’s anything you can do to help.
Along with these above pieces of advice, it is worth suggesting to your loved one whether they have considered counselling in Harrogate or online. I offer a safe, friendly, strictly confidential space where they can speak freely about their situation and receive the targeted professional support they need.