Dealing with loss is difficult. The emotions are intense and draining, so painful that we don’t want to feel them. When we watch others deal with death and loss it can be uncomfortable. We don’t like to see it. In an attempt to be helpful, we throw rational and hopeful solutions at them.
- They are no longer in pain
- You will find someone else
- They are better off now
- Be strong
- I know how you feel
- This is part of God’s plan
I recently lost a friend. It was an expected death, he wasn’t sick, he was wasn’t old. I was in a haze for a day and the tears wouldn’t stop the following day. It was the shock, the grief and the fact that it was so close to home. He was three years younger than my husband. I was so torn up and in denial. So many people reached out to me, they were kind and supportive. If someone told me to be strong or tried to cheer me up I would have been very upset. This is how people try to help, but it’s not helpful for the person grieving.
Dr. Alan Wolfelt, one of North America’s leading death educators, authors and grief counselors, puts grieving into a different perspective. He says that we need to feel the pain, to go through the suffering. You can’t just put it aside and ignore it. Going to back to work or getting on with your life is not healthy. This is not how to deal with death and loss, you have to feel the grief. Find more tips from him here: https://www.centerforloss.com/grief/six-needs-mourning/
How to Support Someone Through their Loss
No matter the type of loss it’s important to be there for the person. Whether this was an expected or unexpected death, the pain is still there. The loss has still happened. It will be uncomfortable and hard to watch someone in pain. But trying to make it better is not helpful. Sometimes support is saying nothing at all. By giving someone a hug, sitting in silence with them and maybe even shedding a tear, you are saying I care. You are putting their needs first, and trying to understand their viewpoint.
Helpful and Supportive Things to Say
- I’m so sorry
- I’m here for you
- This must be so hard for you
- If you need anything please call me
- My favourite memory of your loved one is….
To really give someone your support is sitting with them in their emotion. Brene Brown explains empathy in this short video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Evwgu369Jw
Death is not comfortable. Our society wants to make things better when people are in pain. Sweep it away, just smile. I’m saying it’s not OK. To have emotion, to be upset is normal and shouldn’t be shamed or pushed aside. People want to feel heard. We can be the change. It starts with us today.