So at the start of this week I was supposed to be attending a family funeral in support of a close family member but we had a dreaded bug that floored all of us including my poor mum who had come to try to help. That was the first of two funerals for this week, the second was earlier today for a dear friend and business mentor.
In light of these I thought I’d write something about grief and try to give some advice to anyone who is trying to support a loved one through their heart ache. I hope this might help at least one person.
Grief initially is all consuming and you can literally feel as though you are drowning (read more about the shipwreck analogy here). It is like you are on a sinking ship so you might panic (panic attacks are common), you may have great despair and feel as though you have to fight just to keep your head above water. The feelings can be very different and unique to everyone especially depending on who it is who has passed and their relationship to the one grieving. Also timing plays a huge part in how severe grief can be too, whether it is how someone died (was there time for a goodbye), did they die far too soon or if the passing coincided with an anniversary or special occasion then that can heighten painful feelings.
Seven pieces of advice
My seven pieces of advice for anyone with a friend or loved one who is grieving is this –
- Listen – always listen to what they are telling you. If they say they don’t want something then listen, regardless as to whether you think what you are suggesting would benefit them. They know what is best for them at that moment in time.
- Check in – regularly check in with them so they know you care about them and tell them to let you know if you can do anything. Often the person is so consumed by grief that they can’t think of what to say and may answer, “I don’t know” so maybe suggest to them what you would like to do for them. For example “would you like to go for a walk?”, “would you like me to bring you dinner?”, “can I take you our for a drink somewhere?” or “would you like a spa day?”. All yes or no answers these closed questions are the best ones to use.
- Ask first – If you’d like to drop them a meal round or call to see them ask first as it might not be a good time for them. Don’t just drop in.
- One week – Ideally make a note to contact them a week after the funeral as this is the period after which many others will have been in touch and now the person is truly on their own. It is at this time the grief stricken one feels forgotten and as though the entire world has just returned to normal while they are still in pain.
- Flowers – If you would like to buy flowers for the service then please check with your loved one as they may just want donations to charity instead. If you feel you’d like to buy them flowers personally then ask them first if this would be ok or take them a plant instead or if not suggest you bring them wine or chocolates instead. Some people when grieving hate flowers.
- Change of mind – remember at the moment they are not thinking straight at all and their emotions are everywhere so give them leeway to change their minds. That’s why continuing to check in with them is so important as one day they might say they are fine and don’t need anything but on another day they might just need someone to go for a walk with or have a cup of tea and a chat.
- Fresh air – don’t forget the benefits of exercise in the fresh air if your loved one has been cooped up inside then suggest you get wrapped up and go out somewhere for a walk.
So there you are my top tips for you for trying to navigate support for someone during the early stages of grief.
Please remember that with everything everyone is different and so grieves in a very unique way. They also will grieve differently depending on the person who has passed and their relationship to that individual.
I hope this is helpful to some of you out there. I hope so anyway.
Always Violet Skies x
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