When a loved one passes away, the whirlwind of emotions can be overwhelming. People often don’t know what to say or do, especially if they have never been through the loss themselves. Even though comforting someone in grief can be difficult, it is important to reach out. A person’s experience of loss is unique and will vary depending on their relationship to the deceased, but there are many ways to comfort a grieving friend or relative. Providing physical comfort can be one of the most effective things you do. Offering a hug or just sitting together can help the bereaved find comfort and a sense of connection with you.
It is also helpful to offer your support physically by preparing meals, running errands or helping with household chores. It is also important to provide emotional support by listening and being present. Another way to offer comfort is to participate in rituals. Funerals and memorial services are opportunities to come together with others who knew the person who died and share memories of them. You can also take part in other rituals, such as writing letters to the deceased or lighting candles at home. A bereaved person may find comfort in talking about their loss, but it is equally as comforting to read and listen to others talk about the person who passed away. People who have experienced bereavement report that it is the reassurance of hope that they remember most from others. It is important to not only offer hope, but to affirm that it will get better.
Reassure a bereaved person that they will feel their loss for as long as it needs to be felt, but that they are strong people and will find a way through this. Repressing grief can be self-destructive. If you don’t allow yourself to ask heartfelt questions and express your feelings, you can end up with an insurmountable hole in your soul. In fact, it is a sign of strength to seek out outside help when necessary. It is a good idea to make an appointment with a counselor, therapist or social worker. It is also important to encourage a person in their journey through grief by reminding them that they are loved.
It can be painful to hear the grieving person tell you that they don’t love themselves, but it is important for them to realize that they are worthy of love. Finally, you can offer a sense of purpose by encouraging a bereaved person to continue their daily tasks. Whether it is taking care of themselves or their family, continuing to work, pursuing hobbies, or volunteering can be a source of comfort. It is also important to take care of the physical body, so make sure to eat well and exercise regularly. One final note: if you are uncomfortable expressing your sympathy for a grieving person, simply say that you are sorry they lost someone and that you are there for them.