When someone you deeply care about is plunged into the depths of grief from the loss of a loved one, finding the right words or actions to provide solace and support can be an arduous task. Often, the fear of saying or doing the wrong thing can be paralyzing. While there might not be a magic formula to erase their pain, there are ways to extend a caring hand and help in coping with the grief they are going through.
Here are 5 heartfelt and genuine approaches, each inspired by real experiences, to comfort those grappling with the profound loss of a loved one.
1. Being Sincere: Your Words Matter
During loss, it's crucial to reach out and be genuine with everything you say. Eti knows the feeling of unexpected isolation all too well. After losing her family to the recent pandemic, she was shocked when she saw how a lot of people who she thought would show up for her, never did. "My contact list changed overnight."
While it’s important to reach out, be sure to only say things that you mean because unkept promises will only further hurt the grieving person. Here are a few good responses you can give to someone who is grieving. Eti’s friend said, “Nothing they left behind is more important than you. So don’t forget to take care of their most important person; you.” Another response that Aparna mentioned, which was simple but filled her heart was, “I am so sorry for your loss, but this too shall pass.”
It is natural to want to find the right words to help your grieving friend or family member, but sometimes acknowledging that you don't have all the answers is more comforting than empty promises. Simply expressing your condolences and offering a listening ear can also provide immense solace to the other person.
2. The Power of Listening: Hear Their Heart
In moments of grief, being heard can be incredibly therapeutic. Having lost his mother to cancer, Sourabh shared that one of the most uplifting things that happened was talking and listening to his father. Sharing her memories helped them heal together and brought them closer to each other.
So, take the time to truly listen to what your grieving friend has to say. Give them the space to share their memories, fears, and emotions without feeling rushed or judged. Do your best to not push your thoughts or opinions onto them unless they ask for it. Your presence and empathy can create a safe space for them to navigate their feelings and help them heal.
3. Offering Practical Help: Lightening the Load
Practical support can go a long way in comforting someone who is grieving. “Packing my mother’s things up was one of the toughest tasks that I had to do after she passed. Honestly, I was so grateful for all the people who came to help me. Their actions and more importantly, their mere presence, spoke a thousand words to me,” says Aparna.
Consider offering to help with chores or tasks that may have become overwhelming. This can be especially important for those who have lost their spouses, as most tasks in their pairing are usually shared amongst the two. Taking care of everyday responsibilities, such as cooking a meal or running a few errands, can provide much-needed relief and show that you care about their well-being. It can also help the one who is mourning to transition into those roles better.
4. Suggesting Support Groups: Finding Strength in Community
Despite being as understanding as you can be for your loved one, oftentimes, only another person who has gone through a similar loss can resonate with how they are feeling.
Helping your loved one join a grief support group or sign up for grief counselling can give them a chance to share their complex emotions, learn coping strategies, and find comfort in the company of those who understand their journey. It helps them see that while everyone has their own form of grieving, they are not alone in the process. Aparna realised that people in support groups offered great perspectives as they came from different roles and generations. It helped her realise that even with all the differences, you find comforting similarities in that match your experiences.
If your friend or loved one is unsure about speaking to a group of people, SoulUp also offers peer conversations that help you have 1-on-1 conversations with a someone who has gone through a similar experience. So the options are far and wide – you just need to help find the right fit for them.
5. Initiating Conversations: Letting Them Know You Care
Grief doesn't have an expiration date, and it's important to continue offering your support beyond the immediate aftermath of the loss. Grief healing is a life-long process so initiate conversations to let your loved one know that you're thinking of them.
Even a brief message can make a significant impact, reminding them that they're not alone in their journey. When it comes to grief and mourning a loss, having someone just ask if you are okay can help people be responsible for their actions. This is extremely relevant for special days, like a birthday or a festival. Ensure that you are present for them for the good and bad days. It will be reassuring and help them handle things better.
At the end of the day, your aim is to bring your grieving friend back to the living and provide them with a safe space to heal. Your compassionate presence, sincere words, and thoughtful gestures can provide a comforting lifeline during their darkest moments. Remember, there's no perfect solution, but your genuine efforts to be there for them can make a world of difference as they navigate the challenging path of loss.
By Anagha R