It’s one of life’s marvelous ironies: When tragedy strikes, the beauty of humanity is unleashed. Humans have an innate ability to sense when a grieving loved one needs to be picked up. We’ve all been in a situation in which we needed the love and support of those around us. We’ve all helped friends and loved ones through challenging times. But one of the hardest parts about tragedy is that it never gets any easier to handle. We at Evergreen Wellness want to help. Here are some of our ideas about how to help your loved ones through grief.
Presence is the most important thing
Many who can’t decide whether to comfort a grieving loved one are afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. Although this concern is quite valid, experts say your fears shouldn’t stop you from comforting. Ann Neumann, author of the book The Good Death: An Exploration of Dying in America, wrote in a New York Timesop-ed, “By definition, to offer a condolence is to tell them you suffer with them.” David Brooks, another Times columnist, wrote “Some people think that those who experience trauma need space to sort things through. Assume the opposite. Most people need presence.”
Listening can be more valuable than talking
One of the easiest ways to comfort someone is to speak from experience. We’ve all seen hardships, and the easiest way to conceptualize the pain of others can be to look back on our own trials. But this tactic can backfire. Brooks urges us to avoid comparing our hardships with those of our grieving loved ones. “Each trauma should be respected in its uniqueness. Each story should be heard attentively as its own thing.”
Offer specific help
It can be near impossible to manage your day-to-day responsibilities as you grieve. Tell your bereaved loved one that you will cook them a meal, get them groceries, take care of their pet — anything to take some of the burden off of them. As Neumann wrote, “Don’t just say, ‘Let me know if you need anything.’ Most people will never ask.”
We hope these suggestions will provide some comfort in the event that you or someone you love should suffer a loss. But the most important thing to remember if you find a loved one in need of comfort is that you shouldn’t put too much pressure on yourself to behave any way. Your love and presence are enough.
Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and it is not meant to be relied on as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Consult your physician before starting any exercise or dietary program or taking any other action respecting your health. In case of a medical emergency, call 911.