Grieving is a natural response when experiencing a loss. Although most of us identify grieving with the loss of a loved one, other situations are also cause for grieving. If someone you care about loses a pet, breaks up with a significant other, or gets fired from a job, it is certainly appropriate for you to extend your condolences, send sympathy cards, and help that person cope with grieving. The following are a few things you can do to help the bereaved person cope with grief and heal from the loss:
- Understand that grieving is a unique and personal process. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, nor is there a standard amount of time a person should spend grieving.
- Encourage them to face the grief. Trying to suppress the sadness and pain will only prolong the process of grieving. As hard as acknowledging the loss may be, facing what happened will help in the long run.
- Accept the rollercoaster of emotions. The bereaved may feel angry, shocked, or guilty. These are natural reactions and you should not be judgmental. Listen with an open heart and avoid insisting that the grieving person should be feeling one way or another.
- Be there. Having the support of family and friends is incredibly important during this difficult time. Being there later down the road after the condolences and sympathy cards stop coming in is very important as well.
- Make sure the bereaved is taking care themselves. Keeping physically and emotionally healthy may be an afterthought for someone who experiences a loss. Encourage the bereaved to eat healthily, exercise, and get enough sleep.
- Be mindful of depression. Sometimes, the intensity of one’s grief does not fade or even gets worse with time. Watch for signs of serious problems, such as alcohol abuse, constant or excessive feelings of guilt, and talk of suicide. Encourage the bereaved to find professional help.
If you are concerned for someone who is having a difficult time with the grieving process, sometimes small gestures can go a long way. Thinking of You cards can be a wonderful way to lift a person’s spirits. A gentle reminder that people are thinking of you and hoping you are well can go a long way in making the grieving process tolerable. Let those who are grieving know they are not alone.