• What to Say to Someone Who Lost a Loved One

    by Caroline Ryther
    on Jan 7th, 2019

If you’ve been in that situation, or if you currently are, it can be extremely difficult to know what to say. You come over to your friend’s house, she just lost her husband in a fatal accident a week ago, this is the first time seeing her since. What would you say in this situation? Would you try immediately cheering her up? How can you even try making someone happy again who is suffering such terrible loss?

Here is how we recommend you help and support someone in need of your attention and love during hardship:

Be yourself. When seeing your friend for the first time again after the tragedy, try being true to yourself and your intuition. There’s no perfect way of helping, and trying to act in a certain way can make you feel like an imposter and be very upsetting or confusing to the person you’re trying to help. Be yourself, and show the empathy you have in your heart the way you feel is most natural.

Let your friend know that their feelings are okay. They might have turned cold, paralyzed by chock, or might open the door with tears streaming down their eyes uncontrollably. Grief is unique to the experiencer and does not necessarily follow logical or predictable stages. It can be an emotional rollercoaster, with erratic highs, lows, and setbacks. Everyone grieves differently, so avoid telling your loved one what they “should” be feeling or doing. Feelings of remorse, rage, hopelessness, and panic are common. Your friend may yell to the heavens, obsess about the death, lash out at you or others, or cry for hours and hours. Your loved one needs reassurance that what they feel is normal, so do not judge them or take their grief reactions personally.

Don’t put any pressure. There is no telling when a person grieving will start to feel okay, and setting a timetable for them is wrong. For many people, recovery after tragedy can take 1-3 years, but for others, the grieving process may be longer or shorter. Don’t pressure your loved one to move on or make them feel like they’ve been grieving too long. This can actually slow the healing process and really hurt the relationship. Remember to treat your friend how you’d like to be treated, reach out with a call once a week, talk about fun or interesting things that have happened or exciting new projects and events taking place that you’d like to include them in. Always make sure you show empathy and don’t be scared of asking about how they really feel, how they’re really doing, and if you can help. Often people think grand gestures are needed to show that they truly care, and therefore become scared of falling short of expectations or paralyzed with fear of making a mistake. Honestly, just call, ask if you can come over and watch the new show on Netflix, bring over a batch of cookies randomly and leave them at the doorstep – be involved, be present, be empathetic. The smallest gestures mean the most.

Are you or a someone you know suffering from the loss of a loved one? Please don’t hesitate to ask us for help and schedule an appointment:

Phone: 847-306-8938

Email: pm@mind.md

Author Caroline Ryther

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