Everyone in life experiences the loss of loved ones should it be a husband, a child, or a cherished pet, does not make it different. Everyone goes through the stages of mourning, rejection of the situation, panic, and little understanding of how to accept the grief. In such cases, there are always close people nearby who can provide much-needed support. But what if we want to be understood, cheered up, and listened to when multiple questions arise in our heads: How can someone show support if they have never experienced grief before? Will the support from the side be comforting and valuable? Will I get even more emotional from all this attention from my family and friends? Its important to know how to talk to someone grieving.
The grieving process can be overwhelming for anyone, and it can swallow you up in no time. Someone who goes through the grieving stage experiences a broad spectrum of various emotions, and there is no right or wrong way to this state of being. The range of emotional expressions can have multiple ways of portraying grief, which is all acceptable.
Since all relationships are distinctive and differ from one another, so is the grief that we feel when we no longer have that unique partnership. When you lose a beloved one, you can be swept away with immediate suffering, and it gets complicated to bear as it creeps into your heart in no time.
The grieving process showcases how we deal with the various challenges of losing someone dear to our hearts. Grief can worsen the physical and mental states, creating disorders such as depression, anxiety, and more complex cases. You may feel constantly exhausted and unwilling to continue the daily routine. We are quickly getting emotional, and anything can send us into tears. Nothing may comfort you. However, experiencing loss is a natural part of life. Nobody will ever run away from the grief but can try and renew their lives by looking forward to a new chapter with some hope in their hearts.
Be a good listener
We will never know why someone can have a significant affair with grief. However, we should be more vigilant toward those dealing with grief and attempt to be more emphatic as if we are trying to walk a mile in someone’s shoes. The first step to showing more compassion is listening without giving too much advice, interrupting the speech, or becoming judgmental. Everyone who feels the agony of losing the loved one needs a simple understanding and the opportunity to share the memories without feeling distressed.
Listen with ears of tolerance! See through the eyes of compassion! Speak with the language of love! Online quote
Listening is not always an easy task, especially when someone is undergoing the process of sorrow and mourning. In this situation, listening can become very difficult and energy-consuming. Most definitely, it is also not for everyone and can create a challenge. We need to acknowledge that the bereaved require some space and understanding. Being a good listener is extremely important as long as no one suffers.
Mirroring is a technique we use when conversing with someone who lost their loved one. Repeating a few words after someone comforts and relaxes the speaker as they feel special and cared for. By stressing some words, you are showing that you are actively and deeply into the listening process, which has a bonding effect between the two.
What to say when someone is grieving
We should always ensure that the words we use are appropriate as not everyone you speak to or meet will be your close relative, a friend, or a colleague. It is best to be observative and tactful in any situation when someone is grieving.
Remember that it is OKAY that someone is unwilling to open up or talk about someone they lost due to feeling fragile. Remember to remind your loved ones that you are not going anywhere and are there if they are looking for a meaningful conversation.
A good way of showing some support to someone who has lost a loved one is to connect with them by sending a smiley or a sincere short video. Your intentions can express that you are thinking of the person; even if at the moment you may not know what exact words to use to comfort, you are there if needed.
Be aware of what is happening
It is best to approach and support someone using kind words of affirmation. You may want to get a little something like a sympathy card to raise the spirits or listen without interruption. Encourage your loved one to be okay with the grief as you are there to lean on.
It is normal to be inexperienced in grief
Be transparent in the conversation and let the loved one know that! Understandably, grief is complicated, but do not be discouraged that you lack experience, as your support can start with a small talk or cuddle. Due to the grieving process being highly individual, do not let it scare you. Be understanding and allow the loved one or a dear friend to turn to you.
Use your experience wisely
Try to relate to a loved one’s life, and do not be quick to judge or be overpowering with your ideas. Ensure that you are not giving too much advice or coming across as a cold-hearted person speaking only about your own experience. Keep in mind that it can cause even more discouragement and upset.
Timing is everything
The timing of showing support can be crucial and depends on when you feel that the loved one needs you the most. You may use your experience when comforting someone; however, don’t come across boldly or impatiently at any time. When someone is mourning, it is best to pick a person up gradually and gently encourage. Show your compassion by asking thoughtful questions you would want to hear yourself.
What were your negative experiences with grief?
Sometimes recalling our past experiences when we were wrongly spoken to or felt mistreated by someone’s negative approach lets us keep looking for a more efficient way of dealing with grief. The similarities are in everyone’s experience; therefore, we can use these as an advantage to create well-executed timing and help the loved ones with their journey through grief.
What were your positive experiences with grief?
The community plays a significant role in shaping how we experience grief, helping us overcome the sadness and sorrow. A considerable help from a group of people can encourage you to alleviate the suffering and get empowered by the fantastic support and reliability of others.
Be authentic and open
It happens that we are not always coming across as understanding and adequate. We may feel confident we are doing it the right way; however, there is always a chance that we can come across as insensitive. No matter what, we should try our best to be as authentic as possible. The person who requires our support can sense if we are genuine or not. The best way is to show support and love while being open and encouraging.
Below you can see the points we use as a reminder, or you can make the best out of them when initiating a conversation.
- I am here for you no matter what
- You are in my thoughts
- I am open to listening
- Is there anything I can help you with?
- I’ll be here when you ready to talk
- Give yourself time to heal
- How can I distract you from grieving?
- I am sorry you have to go through such a painful time
- Say nothing, listen, and be there for the person
- I have never experienced anything like that but let me know if I can comfort you somehow
- Let me know how I can take care of you in the best possible way
Another option if you feel uncomfortable picking the right words to say is to send a sympathy card or a text message, including emojis or gifs.
What not to say to someone in grief
Before you initiate the conversation, it is best to consider what and how you will say the words. You mustn’t be coming across as a pushy person who knows how it is like to mourn, as everyone experiences this process differently. Try not to relate to what you may have felt or gone through when you lost a loved one but be transparent and understanding. It would help if you avoided the phrases below when talking to the bereaved:
- I know exactly how you feel, or I have been there– the thing is that you don’t know as everyone’s experience is unique.
- How are you doing? – you don’t want the bereaved to feel even more exhausted by giving some explanations as they may be struggling with overpowering emotions
- I promise it will get better – you can’t promise anything like that; avoid making empty promises.
- It would be best if you got over it – there is no time frame when it comes down to grief; every individual has their clock.
- Give me a call if you need anything – you shouldn’t ask to call you, best do it yourself offering if you can give a hand in anything.
- Add your grief – don’t be pushy, and don’t top the conversation up with additional pain.
What to do for someone who is grieving
You can use a few options to help the bereaved confront the grief steadily.
Be present in the situation, listen without interruption, and respect the bereaved emotional state and behavior. Understand that not everyone wants to talk; be ready to feel comfortable in silence.
Being present in a moment
Remember that it is not easy to deal with grief. Your loved one can feel overwhelmed and distraught. To create a comforting environment, be prepared to minimize all possible destructions, and switch your phone for a while. Let the loved ones feel you care and are there for them without being preoccupied with your schedule. Show your absolute attention!
Get some fresh air
If your loved one wishes to go for a walk or wants to stop by for a cup of tea in a cozy and quiet place, then do so; only remember not to rush and keep a steady pace.
Help with housework
Check with your loved ones if there is anything that you can help them with, by doing some house chores, such as preparing a meal, taking the kids to the nursery, feeding and walking the pets, etc.
Offer to create a poster of a lost loved one; as you share the moments together, you will also look through some lovely quotes, dear-to-heart photos, and other significant little things that will form beautiful and heart-warming memorabilia. A journal is an excellent idea if your loved one enjoys writing and keeping memories on paper.
Recommend some additional resources
As it is a sensitive time, make sure you offer some resources without extra pressure and let the loved one consider the options. For example, it could be a grief podcast, a hike with family members, a walk in the park with a group of supporters, or a visit to a grief therapist. You can discuss all these ideas with the bereaved.
Check-in with the loved one
Continue to be interested in the state of your loved one, occasionally checking in. It is essential not to give up on your loved one at the early stages of grieving and show that you are there and will stay in touch as long as needed. Grief has no timetable. It can be short-lived or last for years, with ups and downs. The support you will provide will mean a lot to the bereaved, same as the meaningful conversations that will initiate a healing process. Just remember not to rush and take your time listening to your loved one, share the memories and proceed cautiously, one step at a time.