When someone you care about has recently lost a loved one, grieving is not easy. The grieving person may feel a lot of intense emotions during this challenging time, and sometimes we don’t know what the right thing to say or do.
So if your friend or loved one recently experienced a loss of a family member, be there for them and know how to approach the situation to help with the healing process.
Here’s what you need to know on how to comfort a loved one who lost someone:
- Make the initial contact and offer your sincere sympathies
- Understand how the grieving process works
- Know the right words to say to a grieving person
- Know what not to say to someone grieving
- Offer emotional support to the grieving person
- Observe for signs of depression
Make the Initial Contact and Offer Your Sincere Sympathies
As soon as you hear the news about their loss, try to make the initial contact. You can send a text message, pick up the phone, or you can always visit. Upon your initial contact, you can say something like, “I’m sorry to hear about your loss, your dad is an exceptional man. He is in my thoughts and prayers. If you need anything, please let me know if there is anything I can do to help”.
Offer your sincere sympathies with a simple statement. Sometimes saying less during this situation is better. Avoid lengthy conversations about the person who passed away unless they open up first. By simply showing your sympathy and support during this difficult time is more than enough.
Understand How the Grieving Process Works
To comfort someone who is experiencing grief, it is best to know how the grieving process works. Here’s what you should know: everyone grieves differently. There is no expected timeframe when the crying will stop, or there is no right or wrong way to grieve.
It would be best if you understood that grieving is an emotional roller coaster and may involve many emotions and behaviors. There may be times that your loved one may cry for hours, yell, or will sometimes prefer to be alone; this all normal. Don’t take it personally and just give reassurance that you’re there to help.
Know the Right Words to Say to a Grieving Person
There are times if you want to follow up on them, you can simply ask, “How are you feeling?” or “Do you want to talk about it?”. Expressing your concern that you’re there to listen helps in the healing process. Sit in silence, hold their hand, or a quick hug are gestures that are sometimes more than enough.
During these challenging times, it’s hard to comfort someone and find the right words to say. If you don’t know what to say, just listen. You can’t imagine the pain your loved one is going through, especially if it’s losing a family member or a parent. Wait for your friend or loved one to talk about the loss.
Know What Not to Say to Someone Grieving
As you try to choose the right words to say, also know what not to say to someone who is grieving. Here are some words you should avoid saying to a person who recently experiences a loss:
- “Your mom/dad is in a better place.”
- “Stop crying and just move on.”
- “This is all God’s plan. Everything happens for a reason.”
- “I’m sorry for your loss, but I believe you’ll be okay in no time.”
- “You should be thankful for your other blessings in life.”
- “Your mother is in a better place now.”
- “At least your mother loved a long life; others die young.”
- “Keep yourself busy to move on quickly.”
- Avoid statements starting with “You should” or “You will.”
These statements are uncalled for these types of situations. These are your opinion, and it’s better to keep them to yourself. Never tell a grieving person how they should feel because they grieve at their own pace.
Offer Emotional Support to the Grieving Person
As time passes, offer emotional support to the grieving person—check-in on them, from time to time through a text message or a phone call. You can say like, “I want you to know that I’m here when you need me.” Keep in touch regularly or take the time to spend time with your friend.
Along with the emotional support, let them know what kind of specific help you can do and express your sympathy by specifying what kind of help you can offer. You can offer to pick up some flowers or for anything they need for the funeral.
Also, celebrating holidays or special occasions may be different for a grieving friend. You may want to do something like offering to help them prepare for Thanksgiving or invite them over for Christmas. Even though they say no, it’s okay.
Observe for Signs of Depression
Many people who are grieving may go through depression and social withdrawal. Grief is a roller coaster of an emotional experience, and you should look after your friend’s mental health. If you feel like your friend is going through depression during their time of grief, look after their mental health. It’s also best to encourage them to seek a mental health professional if the pain and grief they feel is too much.
How do you observe for signs of depression? Here are the warning signs:
- Social isolation: Withdrawing oneself from others, avoiding social gatherings, or prefers to be alone.
- Changes in activities of daily living: Unhealthy changes in eating and sleeping patterns, neglecting their personal hygiene, alcohol or drug abuse, poor performance at work or school.
- Emotional Turmoil: Excessive anger issues, bitterness, remorse, guilt, feelings of hopelessness, or talking about suicide.
So what do you do if your loved one is going through depression? Listen to them, help them find the mental health support they need, encourage your friend to seek therapy, and be patient in this situation. Avoid trying to fix the situation and giving advice and let the professionals handle this.
But if your loved one is talking about suicide, seek immediate help by starting with the Telehealth Counseling at Kentucky Counseling Center.