Sue Scheff: Helping, Supporting Someone Who Is Grieving

It has been a week of tremendous loss in Hollywood and in many hearts of people throughout the world. This grief is effecting all ages, from kids that have been mesmerized by the music of an ICON to adults that grew up with that ICON -the shock and sudden death of anyone you have grew up with, looked up to, or simply had become part of "your" life can be devastating.

I found an article from that offers some great advice on handling grief within your family.

Helping / Supporting Someone Who Is Grieving
by Jeanne Segal, PhDJaelline Jaffe, Ph.D.Linda Laucella
Source: Helpguide

Bereavement can be a lonely and frightening experience for many people. Once the funeral is over and the cards and flowers stop pouring in, they still need caring and support.

It is not uncommon for people to have difficulty openly expressing their feelings around grief and sadness. This may be particularly true when the public outlets for their pain and sorrow have ended. Where do people then turn for support? Family members may be too preoccupied with their own grief to reach out. This is a time when friends, co-workers and neighbors can be instrumental in the healing process. The bereaved should be able to rely on members of their social network for caring and assistance, both practical and emotional.

Grieving is a normal healing process

Regardless of the type of loss, there is a natural process of grieving. Understanding the nature of grief and bereavement gives you the insight that will enable you to help someone else cope. The more you understand about the basics of the grieving process, the more you may be able to help them:

•It is normal and necessary to experience intense emotional sensations in order to heal properly?
•Feelings of guilt, embarrassment and anger are part of the restorative process.
•Each person grieves differently.
•There is no set timetable for bereavement.
The most important thing you can do is just be there for them. You might not know exactly what to say or what to do, but that’s okay. Don’t let your discomfort get in the way when you want to reach out to a person who is grieving. Now, more than ever, your support is needed. Be willing to push past the awkwardness and be honest and straightforward. Know that you don’t have to solve their problem; simply provide a listening ear.

When people feel guilty

Sometimes grieving people may feel guilt about what they should or shouldn’t have done. You can help by:

•Letting them know how much you care.
•Affirming that they have done their best, and assure them that you know they will continue to do so.
•Encouraging them to keep talking about their feelings.
Even when you feel uncomfortable, provide an atmosphere in which your bereaved friend or family member knows that they have permission to talk about the person who died. Talk candidly about that person by name. When it seems appropriate, ask sensitive questions – without being nosy – that invite them to openly express their feelings.

Helping and supporting a grieving friend or loved one

When in doubt, err on the side of silent, emotionally-connected support. If you can’t think of something to say, just offer eye contact or a squeeze of their hand. Your support can be conveyed simply, with your silent presence. Know that you don’t have to have all the answers – or any of the answers, for that matter. You can reassure the bereaved person by letting them know that you will be there as a companion when needed during this sorrowful time, even though you can’t take away their pain. Have confidence that they will again find meaning and joy in life.

Additional ways to provide comfort and support

Because grief can be a confusing and overwhelming experience, it is difficult for many people to ask for help. They might feel guilty about receiving so much attention or not want to be a burden on others. If that appears to be the situation, you can make it easier for them by making specific suggestions – such as, “I’m going to the market this afternoon. What can I bring you from there?” or “I’ve made beef stew for dinner. When can I come by and bring you some?” Or you can convey an open invitation by saying, “Let me know what I can do,” which may make a grieving person feel more comfortable about getting back to you.

Read the entire article here:

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