At one point or another, each of us has a friend or relative who experiences the death of a person close to them. It can be difficult during times like these to know how to support someone who is grieving. Our compassionate staff at Woodlawn Cemetery has helped a lot of our New York neighbors through times of deepest grief.
Here are some tips for supporting someone who is grieving.
Try not to offer advice or an explanation.
When others are grieving, some people feel the need to explain a death or to offer up advice. Grief is impossible to explain, and everyone’s journey through it is unique. Unless a loved one specifically asks for help or advice in this area, resist the urge to volunteer tips for dealing with grief.
Weather the emotional storms.
Grief brings with it a lot of emotional ups and downs. Try not to get caught up in the stormy emotions your loved one is feeling. Simply holding space for their feelings can help them feel seen and supported at this difficult time of life.
Make yourself available.
Oftentimes, a grieving person doesn’t know what they need to feel better. Try to keep yourself available to touch base or have a quick chat when they happen to reach out. Offer up open-ended invitations to go for a walk, share a coffee, or take part in any low-stress activity that is unlikely to increase their anxiety or worry. Sometimes all a grieving person wants is someone to listen to them talk about what they are going through.
Keep it simple.
It’s normal not to feel like you know what to say to someone who is grieving. Keep your words as simple and straightforward as you can. Acknowledge the depth and enormity of their loss and ask them how you can help.
Check in regularly.
You may want to hold back from getting in touch with your loved one because you think they prefer to be left alone. Grief can be incredibly lonely and alienating, and a quick text saying something like, “Thinking of you” or “Sending you love” can be a great reminder that you are there for them and they are not alone.