When someone close to you loses a loved one, it can often be a confusing time for you. However, supporting someone in their time of grief is important and beneficial to both you and the person who has suffered a loss.
Most importantly, be sure to listen. Expect that the person in grief will repeat one or several stories several times in the beginning. Do your best to reserve judgment, especially in the case of anger or hostility towards the deceased. Now is not the time to correct someone on their emotions and thoughts.
If you knew the person who passed away, be sure to share memories that you had with them as well. Try to keep what you say positive and happy, so as not to evoke harsh reactions from the person you are comforting. Do not try and outdo anyone who you are comforting. Phrases such as, “I know what you mean", and “That reminds me of when s/he did that with me, too" can be alienating and cold. Try to remain as neutral as possible, especially if the deceased was not someone you knew well or intimately. Also, don't comfort the grieving with hints about “it taking time", as that can seem daunting and like a burden. Remember, everyone recovers at their own pace, and there is no amount of time that exceeds the limit of mourning. Depending on how close someone was to the deceased, it may take years of grieving, and possibly even a lifetime. There are many points in time when someone may seem back on track, or in a continuously positive place, only to be reminded of something that relates to their loved one. This is not a bad sign, and should not be taken as one.
Many people find comfort in the celebration of their loved ones life. A family get together where the person is remembered or discussed can help, as can making a scrapbook, a movie, or a song compilation. Allow the grieving to remember their loved one in as many ways as possible- it's the best method for moving on without isolating themselves from the person they have lost.
Above all, be extremely cautious of the griever's behavior, and do your best to act accordingly if you notice any questionable signs. Threats and thoughts of suicide or self-deprecation, intent to hurt others, or complete isolation are all signifiers that the person needs more help beyond support and love. Do not assume that such thoughts are a natural process when grieving. While they may not come as a surprise, it is risky and immoral to allow anything like that to happen if you see it. Contact their immediate family, as well as a professional doctor if you notice any signs of extreme behavior.
Mr. Oliver is a marketing agent of Morrissett Funeral Home. The funeral home provides funeral services and funeral related services throughout the Richmond Virginia area. For more information on their Funeral Services please visit their website.