the Days Following
Some people find themselves terribly alone in the days following the
funeral, whereas others feel that they never have any time to themselves
to grieve. Remember that others cannot read your mind anymore than you
can read theirs, they're simply doing what they believe to be right.
If they choose to stay away, they are probably doing so out of respect
for your privacy. If they choose to spend as much time as possible with
you, this will be because they fear for your ability to cope alone. Explain
to them what your needs are. If you need people around you, phone some
friends and ask them to visit. If you need to be alone, explain this politely
and ask if you may phone them should you need their company. You'll find
that most people are very accommodating as long as they understand your
The loss of a loved one is never easy and nobody will ever expect it
to be. For some the funeral seems to pass as just a hazy memory, leaving
a feeling of guilt at not remembering the details of this last farewell.
Remember that it's the memories you have of the person when alive that
are important, and it's these that will remain clear to you in the future.
During deep grief it can be very difficult to grasp details of what's
happening but this does not mean you didn't care.
When someone you care about experiences a loss it is important to stay
in touch with them. Sending a sympathy card is a great and important way
of showing your support but that individual or family will need you beyond
the services. Here are some suggestions of things you could do if you
- Send flowers to brighten their day. An elaborate bouquet is not necessary,
just a little something.
- Give them a call, you don't need to avoid that person. They will
tell you if it is a good time or not. Make sure you tell them It's ok
if they do not feel like talking right now. Just let them know that
you are there to listen whenever they are ready.
- Offer to cook a meal, help with the housework or babysit if required.
The person may need some time to themselves.
- Invite them to go out with you somewhere but be ready for them to
not take you up on that offer right away.
Ultimately it is up to the individual who is grieving and we should not
expect that person to be 'their old selves' any time soon. Try not to
have too many expectations when you offer your help, the important thing
is you are helping them by reminding them they have friends/family/outside
Helping Someone Who's Mourning the Loss of a Loved One
When someone you care about is mourning the loss of a loved one, you
want to be of help, but may not always know what to do.
Suggestions of things you can do to provide sensitivity and support during
someone’s grieving process include:
- Be available—and patient. Offer your support unobtrusively,
while also making it very clear you’re there to help in whatever
ways you’re most needed.
- Listen. In a recent PBS series on death and grieving, the panel members
who recently had someone close to them die described how crucial it
had been throughout their grieving process to feel connected with people
whom they cared about and to be seen and heard without being judged.
- Allow the person to express their feelings, including anger and bitterness,
as they make their way through the grieving process.
- Don’t force the individual to reveal feelings he or she is
not able or ready to share.
- Be understanding without claiming to “know” what the
other person is feeling.
- Refrain from telling stories of your own past loss(es), since this
can sometimes have the effect of dismissing the grieving person’s
- Physical and emotional touch can bring great comfort. Whenever it
seems appropriate, give a hug or extend a handclasp.
- Throughout the year, remember birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays
that have important meaning for the bereaved and offer your renewed
support during those times.
- Let them know you continue to be there for them, even when other
friends and family have gone back to their routines or are keeping their
distance because they’re unsure of what to say or do.
- Support the grieving person’s decision to seek professional
therapeutic help. Offer to assist them in identifying a good therapist,
and, if it’s needed or feels appropriate, assist with transportation
and/or accompanying them to their first therapy visits.
Just as there is no right or wrong way to grieve, there is no right or
wrong way to help someone you care about who’s grieving as long
as you remain present, patient and extend unconditional support.
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