how to comfort someone who's grieving

When someone you know is experiencing some difficult moments of griefs, it can be quite tempting to go the preacher’s route with sermons such as the “”10 steps to take during a loss, “you’ve cried enough, it’s time to move on..”” It sounds good. But it’s not for this time. And definitely not during a sudden loss. The best steps they actually would respond to may be your being there for them, even silently. Lectures rarely go well with the bereaved who’s hurting and still finding it hard to accept the loss. No one gets trained on fighting a war at the battlefield.

Clichés such as “I know how you feel,” “don’t cry anymore,” and “this too shall pass,” may not be the best of utterances as such times, either, because it can make the one grieving feel bad, or even worst about how they are expressing their pains. Some would feel guilty about not grieving in the most acceptable way.

If you pay a visit to someone who recently suffered the death of a loved one, or a relationship, or whatever be the case, and they seem in a serious grief mood, it is better to spend the time at trying to observe their mood first, before attempts at doing what you think they may be able to take at such moments. Otherwise, you can just be quietly there for them.

I’ve met some people who confessed to being relieved by the mere presence of their friends, and relatives, without them doing anything in particular for them other than just showing up.

Personally, I used to find it hard to visit anyone who’s bereaved because I’d usually lack words to express how much I empathized with them. There was a time in my life that I’d do anything to avoid such visits. I found it hard because I feared losing my own emotions at the sight of their expression of the pains they were going through. I’d just run away.

Visiting a loved one, or a friend who is grieving any form of losses is one of the best things we can do for them. One good part of this is that you need not do anything when present. Just be there with them to listen to them wail, speak about their hurts and let them find solace in your presence. Because there’s a kind of comfort one derives in knowing that one isn’t alone, especially during the most difficult times.

Again, more than just going for the visits, be there for the long haul. It is quite normal for many people to throng the homes of mourners at the initial stage of the crisis. But, the visits may wear out as more days goes by until it comes to a halt when they are still grieving. You can make up your mind to fill up this gap for your friends or a loved one by being there for the long term, especially the periods when everyone else may have left.

Another important thing that you can do for someone grieving is by monitoring their moods to know when they are at that lighter stage to embrace the chance to start moving on gradually. This can be quite difficult for some though; especially if it involved a spouse. The bereaved might want to be extra careful not to be labelled as moving on rather too fast, even when that seems the next option. These things can be strange with the societal pressures they face about such decision.

However, if you observe that they are getting ready to take the next step at moving on with life, help them out by offering to take them out to places where they can be relaxed and enjoy some laughs. Laughter is really important for someone grieving. Because it is most likely the last thing they had done since their grief began.

I remember what happened after my mom’s death, and how I missed laughing out loud as my custom was. Laughter became one of the most difficult things for me to do. My feelings seemed too heavy to be lifted with jokes then. I remember how I used to show contempt at anyone around me that would be sharing jokes, and enjoying a laugh. I would be angry at how they could laugh, and I couldn’t. it was a terrible situation to be in.

The first day I laughed months after her death was in a midweek service at church. How can I forget that day! It was very relieving. I knew from that moment that I was healed, and could move on with life.

Don’t be afraid to ask your grieving friend, or loved one out for a comedy show, or even a dance activity, the moment you sense they are in that place where they are ready to move on with their life. Both laughter and dance are very good for the soul. They can trigger the release of some feel good hormones that brings pleasure to our body.

Whatever you choose to do, remember that you are not wearing the shoes of the bereaved. You may have had a similar experience, but it is never the same, because the one grieving isn’t the same as you. I know it can be tempting to compare their own handling of issues to how “strongly” you had tackled yours, that’s okay for you. But not for them. Please avoid judging them. What they need from you at this moment is to be there for them. Be there, not as a judge, rather, as one that empathizes with their situation.



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To your successfully evolving life.

Joy Iseki

|The Counsellor|

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