Earlier this year Chris lost his Mum to cancer, it was quite sudden and understandably came as a great shock. Death isn’t something any of us like to think about or even talk about but unfortunately it’s unavoidable. I really wanted to be able to support Chris and the kids as much as I could, so I read lots of articles and information about grief.
I came to the conclusion that here is no magic formula. Grief is such an individual process but there are things we can do to help support and ease the pressure a little. I wanted to share five ideas of ways you can support someone you love through grief.
Listening is the most important thing you can do, give them the space to express exactly how they are feeling. There’s no need to have any answers for them or to try to make things better. They may want to cry, get angry or talk about the good times. Holding their hand or a reassuring touch and just listening can go a really long way.
Let them know that you are there to listen for as long as they need you, even if they want to go over and over the same things again. Talking about what has happened and how it happened is all part of the process of accepting that their loved one has died.
When someone dies the planning about what happens next falls to their loved ones. There’s the death certificate to pick up, funeral arrangements to be made, flowers to order and places to inform like the bank or utility companies. This can all be overwhelming to your lived one who is still in shock about what has happened. Offering to help with the practicalities even if it’s just making an appointment with a funeral director or going with them to register the death is all helpful. Keep asking if there’s anything you can do for them so they know you are there to help. This tool about what to do when someone dies by Sunlife is really useful.
Your loved one will want to talk about the person they have lost so don’t be afraid to mention them. It’s more upsetting when people avoid the subject or don’t mention the person that has died at all. Sharing stories, memories and saying their name is still so important.
There are also bereavement services available if they want to talk to someone professional. The GP can refer them for grief counselling and other services available. Websites like Marie Curie and Macmillan also have lots of information and advice about how to get help and support.
Extra Support On Special Days
Life will inevitably move on but there will be special days such as birthdays or anniversaries that will be difficult for your loved one to face. At this time they might need a little extra support from you. A phone call to check in on them or spending time with them on these dates is really helpful. They might want to be alone on these dates which is perfectly fine too. Just reach out and let them know that if they need your support they have it.
Take Care Of Yourself
You can’t pour from an empty cup so the saying goes. Supporting someone through grief can be emotionally draining so it’s important that you take some time to look after yourself too. Talking to someone who’s not involved can be helpful. You could also try taking some time out to escape into a good book, take a bath or watch a movie that makes you laugh. Doing things that you enjoy will fill your own cup right back up.
Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.