Losing a loved one is something we never wish upon anyone or even expect even when the time comes, so it can be hard to know what type of support to bestow upon them. While support comes in many different forms and everyone’s wants and needs are different but we have put together some helpful ways for friends and family to navigate the ways of being a support system.
The number one thing you can do is listen to the bereaved and find out their wants and needs. It’s important to consider the needs and wants of those around you at such difficult time. Remembering that how people grieve is unique and sometimes actions won’t make sense to you or the person grieving so take this into consideration when lending an ear. Angry outbursts or crying, laughing and other emotions are all normal reactions to a shock in the system. If they don’t feel like talking, that’s okay too, just simply being there for your loved one is sometimes all it takes to know that they are loved during this time. Holding their hand, giving them a hug or other contact can also be a way of comfort but this is something you will need to judge based off the needs of the person and your relationship with them.
It’s a good idea to be the practical thinker in these situations as, most likely, they are thinking with their emotions first. Cooking meals that require minimal effort to reheat, assisting with cleaning, running errands etc. are all wonderful ways of taking the pressure off someone during a difficult time. Always ask first. Some people are happy to do these tasks as it keeps their mind off the subject off loss but the offer of help may be just what they needed to be reminded of what and who they have around them.
There is no timeline for grief. It can take months or years to feel 100% again after a loss or event. Little things that can assist in the process is, not shying away from using the name of the deceased, remembering dates that may be particularly hard for the bereaved like anniversaries, Christmas or birthdays. If you notice that their progress with grief is hindering their actions day to day, it may be helpful to suggest some resources. A lot of individuals going through a loss seek professional help and there are a variety of resources that are available to assist them if needed.
Their local general practitioner is a wonderful place to start if support outside of family and friends is needed. There are also resources like, trained bereavement counselors, Australian Center for Grief and Bereavement, Lifeline, and GriefLine Community and Family Services.
Your efforts to console the bereaved should not hinder on your own grievance and self care. Looking out for someone else can be an all consuming task but taking the time to remember that you are, or may be grieving too and that is just as important. Putting aside time in your day to do a task you enjoy or relax is a vital step in supporting someone as you won’t be able to be a supporting person in their life, if you yourself are not well taken care of.