When a loved one has passed away, most families will need help and support of some kind. These are the times we lean on our friends and support network the most. Working through grief is about so much more than getting through the funeral and the first few weeks afterward. While many people know how to show their support at a funeral service, they may be unsure how to provide support to a grieving family overall.
To help you better understand what those who are grieving need, here are some tips on how you can show your caring and support during a difficult time and the ongoing grief that will linger over time.
- Send them flowers, a meal, a note or card, self care items, mementos or anything of this nature that shows you care and are thinking of them. Often this outpouring of support and sympathy expressions helps carry a family through the initial shock of losing a loved one, whether it was expected or not.
- Offer help with children, pets, household chores or errands. These tasks still need to be done even when a family is bereaved but they may not have the energy to see to them, or they may be busy planning a funeral, notifying others of the passing and settling the affairs of the deceased. Don’t forget that help will likely be needed with these tasks for at least the first few weeks after a death, sometimes ongoing if the passing left a hole that cannot be easily filled such as one parent passing and the other suddenly becoming a single parent.
- Check in, call, text, visit, offer hugs and emotional support. These things are really part of supporting friends and family at any time, but they are needed even more so when someone is grieving, especially if they spend a lot of time alone or have to resume a lot of responsibility while they are still learning to cope with the loss. Simply sending a quick text to see how they are can make the world of difference to someone who may be feeling alone. Calling and visiting can help to break up difficult times as well. And if you know the person you are hoping to support appreciates hugs, they can go a long way in communicating what often is only felt and cannot be put into words.
- Help them step away from the grief when they need a break. Everyone needs a break from heavy emotions but after a passing, it can feel unsettling to set the grief down and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. Having someone with them to show it’s okay and encourage an emotional break is very helpful. Share a laugh, see a movie, be their plus one for an event, reminisce, really anything that provides some relief and distraction from the difficult emotions they are experiencing.
- Don’t be afraid to talk about the person who died. There may be certain times that are better suited for this than others, but keeping their memory alive is important to the loved ones who have experienced a loss. Most people feel uncertain about mentioning someone that has passed away for fear of inflicting pain, but many people who have lost someone they love dearly will tell you that the person never leaves their thoughts anyways and talking about them helps them hold onto the memories.
- Simply be there, whatever that looks like. Don’t try to fix it, just let them show their emotions and share their grief. Listening is often one of the most underrated ways you can help someone going through difficulty in their life.
Being a supportive friend or family member is a lifelong role. The person experiencing the loss will likely feel it for most of their life so understand that while you will likely be needed more in the beginning, there will always be grief to work through. The first Christmas, birthdays, holidays and other important events will be challenging and they will need your love and support during those times too.
Every individual and family will grieve differently. Feel out the person (or people) that you want to be there for to see what they need and how you can be there. You will usually know what is right in the moment and if you’re unsure, don’t be afraid to ask. People are more likely to feel alone if they aren’t getting the support they need because those around them don’t feel comfortable talking about the death and what comes afterward.
Country Hills Crematorium offers Grief Support resources on our website for those who have suffered a loss. Please reach out at any time if we can be of support or service to you or your loved ones.