4 Tips for Supporting Someone Who Is Grieving

When someone close to you has recently suffered from a bereavement of some kind, it can be hard to know what to say or do. Often people will worry about saying the wrong thing, or doing something that makes the situation worse. We all mean well, of course, but supporting a grieving person is a complex, delicate process, and you shouldn’t be expected to get it absolutely right.

To help you navigate this difficult time with your loved one - whether it’s a friend, family member, or partner - this blog post walks you through four things to keep in mind when you’re with someone going through grief.

Don’t Expect Them To ‘Move On’ Eventually 

As someone who has delivered bereavement counselling in Beaconsfield for many years, I know that many people tend to wrongly assume that there is some sort of expiry date on grief. The truth is that grief is far from linear; not everyone grieves in the same way, and sometimes it kicks in a long time after the fact. So it’s important to never assume that your loved one has moved on because a certain amount of time has passed. Be sure to check in on them once in a while; ask them how they are feeling and whether there’s anything you can do.

Help With Practical Tasks 

Offering help with everyday tasks can be an extremely helpful thing for someone who is grieving. It could be that the person who has died fulfilled certain roles that are now your loved one’s sole responsibility, which only makes their life more stressful. The minutiae of everyday life can be too much for a bereaved individual anyway, so assisting them in any way will be useful. This could include cleaning, assisting with children or pets, or giving them a place to stay.

Acknowledge That There Will Be Mood Swings 

It is important to remember that a grieving person can float between different moods in a short space of time. This is a normal part of grief, and something we should encourage, for it is their way of processing what has happened. They may be talkative, then go quiet all of a sudden. Sometimes a grieving person will want to be left alone, while on other occasions they might need someone to talk to. Whatever emotion they are feeling, being able to handle it is a crucial form of support that they’ll benefit from receiving.

Remember: Two Ears, One Mouth

I know that it feels tempting to say “the right thing”, but usually this doesn’t work, and can sometimes make them feel worse. As a rule, avoid making suggestions about what your loved one should or shouldn’t do at this moment in time. While this advice is always underpinned by the best intentions, rarely is it ever actually helpful.

By extension, trying to explain or somehow ameliorate their loss - “they’re in a better place now”, etc. - is considerably less useful than simply displaying basic empathy and listening. All you need to do, really, is acknowledge that they are going for a hard time and make sure they know you’re here for them.

If you or a loved one is struggling with a recent bereavement of some kind, feel free to get in touch with me to set up an initial appointment for bereavement counselling in Beaconsfield or online. 

©2022 Sara Torrome

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