At the best of times, it can be difficult to talk about the subject of death and of dying. The topic can leave us feeling awkward, uncomfortable and overwhelmed with emotion. This unpleasant cocktail of feelings is only strengthened when we are faced with someone who has recently lost someone close. It can be tough to know what to say, what to do and how to act when you see them for the first time since their loss occurred.
Here we will try and offer some techniques, general advice and strategies that you can use to help alleviate some of these awkward feelings – for both you and your loved one.
1 – Simple but effective
Sometimes clichés are there for a reason – they work. Saying “I’m sorry for your loss” might seem trite but it’s a good way of offering your respects without minimising the persons own feelings. This is a much safer approach then offering your own personal thoughts or comparisons which might not be of any benefit to the person and their current state of mind.
2 – Ask questions
It’s important to not only acknowledge the situation, but also to ask questions where possible. People worry that they may say the wrong thing and because of this end up saying nothing at all or focus too much on their own thoughts. Grief can become alienating when this happens. So, try and treat your loved one like a normal person and allow them room to talk. It’s OK to ask how they are feeling today – just be prepared to listen.
3- Be specific
It’s great to offer help to a loved one who is dealing with a traumatic loss. However, it can be easy for them to brush off generalised offers of help.
Instead of saying “Is there anything that I can do for you?” try offering something specific like “Would you like me to take care of the shopping for you this week?” or offer to help with some house chores when you drop in for a cup of tea.
Other ways you could help include babysitting or childminding, looking after pets, driving them somewhere, accompanying them on a trip or a walk, picking up medication or prescriptions, helping with paperwork and forms or helping them arrange counselling or other professional support.
4 – Care packages
Grief can be all-consuming, and it’s very common for people to forget about taking care of themselves.
A kind way to support a grieving loved one, and to show that you care is to bring them a practical gift such as a cooked meal or some groceries.
They may also have visitors coming around to offer their condolences and bringing necessities like tissues, coffee, tea and biscuits can help save them a trip to the shops when they might not want to leave their house.
5 – Silence is golden
Grief can be confusing, and it can be exhausting. Sometimes your loved one might just not feel like opening up or talking about how they are feeling today.
However, you shouldn’t mistake this for them not wanting you around. Often just sitting together in silence or watching a TV programme can have a surprising impact.
6 – Be mindful of important dates
For those lucky enough to have a support network, the weeks and months surrounding the loss of a loved one can be far from lonely. There may be plenty of people checking in, offering to help with various chores and generally checking on their well-being.
However, many people say that the hardest time for them during their grief was when these visits began to dry up. You shouldn’t feel obliged to check in every day but keeping a reminder in your phone or your diary to remind you of their loved one’s birthday, or an anniversary can help remind them that the person they have lost has not been forgotten.
7 – And the small ones too
Grief can hit at the most peculiar of times and often it seems like there is no rhyme or reason behind it. The average Saturday morning can be just as difficult as the anniversary of the day a loved one died. Don’t be afraid to check in and see how your loved one is coping when your gut tells you to do so.
8 – Allow sadness
As much as it can be difficult to see someone that you care about suffering – you shouldn’t try and stop it. Sadness is an inevitable part of grieving and is often necessary to transition fully through the grieving process. It can be very frustrating for someone to be told to “be positive” or “think of the good times” as much as you might think you are helping. Instead just try and be there, sympathize and listen.
9 – Say their name
When someone dies a common response is to avoid the topic completely. When we visit, we might talk about the weather, what you’ve watched on TV or work. But a feeling of awkwardness and anxiety about the situation might prevent you from dealing with the elephant in the room – their loss. Don’t be afraid to talk about their loved one and don’t be afraid to say their name. When their mood begins to lift, they might like nothing more than to hear your own positive and happy memories of their loved one.
We hope you have found these tips useful. If you – or someone you know has recently lost someone close and you have concerns about aspects of planning a funeral, please contact Cravens Funerals.
Our compassionate and professional team have years of experience creating funerals that are completely unique to the individual and respectful of the circumstances involved. For help and advice please contact us on 0151 228 3900 or leave us a message through our contact us page by clicking here.