For Both The Griever And Comforter: How To Cope With The Loss Of A Loved One

by Samantha Bun

This one is for those of you who have loved and lost and also for those who are consoling someone close who has lost.

Loss is a common human experience, but each person has his or her own way of dealing with the pain of “letting go,” having to “move on” and being told that “time will heal.” That’s right, we’ve heard it all before.

It’s hard enough to digest a loss when there are so many personal experiences and memories involved. It’s even harder when people around you just shove the preceding clichéd messages in your face.

You not only have to handle the heartache associated with losing someone, but you also have to listen to people who are trying (and failing) to be sympathetic.

There are moments when you’ll feel bombarded and will wish that people would just give you space to breathe. Yet, too soon after, you’ll feel like everyone in the world moved on while you’re still stuck in the same place.

I was once that idiot at a funeral who didn’t know how to comfort someone, but having gone through the experience of loss myself, I realized there are a few gestures I would have definitely appreciated during the process.

For The Griever:

Be Honest About Your Feelings

If you’re hurting, don’t hide it. If you need someone to be there for you, let the person know. If you need your space, tell people you would like to be alone; they will understand.

Be Vulnerable

It’s okay to be sad, and it is okay to cry. There’s no use playing the “tough” game, as it will catch up with you. Let yourself feel the emotions that flood in; you will thank yourself later.

Be With Family And Friends

Surround yourself with people who love and will protect you. Anyone who gives off a negative vibe during your grieving process doesn’t need to be around.

Be Alone

If you want to be alone, be alone. Take a walk to that special place or have private conversations with a loved one. Do whatever helps you to cope.

Be Strong

I know I said not to play the “tough” game by acting like you’re not hurt when you actually are. In this case, I’m referring to being mentally strong. Sometimes it gets dark and sometimes that leads to a potentially destructive path.

Remember that you have friends and family who love you and are willing to help you regain your strength in this time of weakness.

Be There For Those Around You

Sometimes, in the middle of our grieving process, we feel pain so intensely that we forget that other people around are also hurting. Allow yourself to feel it and remember to ask others how they are coping. They need you, too. Who knows, maybe you all need each other.

Be Positive

Life goes on, and even though you can’t see the light at the moment, trust that you will see it eventually. When you get there, you’ll look back at the lessons you learned and at the strength you now carry.

For The Comforter:

Be Kind

Everyone appreciates kindness, especially when navigating a personal tragedy. One thing a person needs while he or she is grieving is for those around to be loving and gentle. Small sentiments can go a long way. Kindness reminds people of the humanity that exists in the world.

Be A Good Listener

Sometimes, it’s just nice to have someone to whom you can talk. Be there and listen; you don’t even need to say a word.

Be Compassionate

The best way to be there for someone is beyond being sympathetic. It is about being both understanding and showing compassion toward an individual. Simply by offering your presence and your open heart, you are allowing the griever to free his or her emotions to you and to feel connected to others at a time when he or she needs it the most.

Be Thoughtful

At first, everyone’s sympathy is free flowing. The thoughtful sympathy cards and text messages are sent; it is nice, but it’s an overdone, customary act that can be a little impersonal.

This lasts for a few weeks, but after a short while, there is silence. For the mourner, it can feel lonely and rather depressing, like our supporters have forgotten about our loss and moved on.

Being thoughtful could mean stopping in unexpectedly for a quick chat with a box of cronuts (because, you know, cronuts remind everyone that life is worth living) just to show you care and that people haven’t forgotten about what happened.

Be Generous

You never know how your generosity could impact an individual or a family during a very difficult time. You could help the family significantly by lessening the burden of financial stress. If you can’t, there are other ways to give.

Be Loving

The world is always better when love is abundant. Give it on a daily basis. Life is too short.

Photo via We Heart It