Loving ways to support a griever
Supporting one that is grieving is not always easy. Let us talk about common ways a griever responds to grieving.
- Sadness: Grief affects us all in different ways. Many have singular responses such as sadness. Feelings of emptiness, or loneliness, even despair can come over a griever. Often a griever does not have words for the feelings they are experiencing. I can remember crying until I just had no more tears left when my sister passed. My experience when my son passed was totally different. I felt numb. Feelings of, ‘This is not real.” I felt guilty because I was not crying, and friends and family were making comments about how strong I was. I felt confused as to what was I supposed to feel or how was I supposed to be reacting.
- Confusion: Often a griever feels very confused it can take them 4-6 seconds longer to respond to a question. I can remember driving down the freeway and being confused. I did not know where I was going. It was a very scary time. thoughts started creeping in or am I going crazy? It is common for grievers to lose focus. One may start feeling numb. It is another common response to grief. You can become numb emotionally as well as physically and spiritually. This can happen simultaneously immediately after the loss. Feelings of “This is not happening”
- Anger: Anger is another common response to a breakup. One may become angry with an ex-partner or a boss if one has been laid off or even a loved one for passing and leaving them. They may even direct the anger inward to themselves. When a person suffers such a loss it leaves feelings of being out of control. We may look for others to blame. It is much easier to be angry when it is someone else’s fault rather than face the grief.
- Worry/fear: Loss often triggers fear around one’s future. Worry about surviving, sometimes it can even trigger panic attacks, feelings of being helpless or anxious even insecurities.
4 Ways to help heal the broken heart.
Most advice given to a grieve from friends and family is not helpful. Often the advice makes sense however does not heal a broken heart.
Grief is about a broken heart. Each loss comes with its own unique set of circumstances. We can not even begin to understand how the griever must feel. Here are some things you can say that may be helpful.
- By saying the statement “I can’t imaging how heartbreaking this must before you” one is acknowledging their broken heart and how sad and hurt they must be. Meeting them where they are.
- A very honest statement “I really do not know what to say”. Words can not even begin to describe one’s grief, so by saying this statement you are telling them you are not trying to analyze, or fix, or even judge them or how they are grieving.
- “I am sorry for your loss” is a reminder that their loss has also touched you. It is another way of providing a person who is grieving with an honest response rather than an intellectual response.
- Ask “what happened?” grievers need and often want to tell their story. So by asking, you allow them to tell it and they feel understood as well as your genuine interest and love. Listening to them without judgment or interruption is one of the most loving things we could do for them during this time.
Next, we will learn some things we can do to help one who is grieving.