Reaching out and connecting with someone that we know who is grieving is not comfortable nor is it easy. Sometimes, we do not seem to know the right words or if we are invading personal space and privacy by asking too many questions. We may instinctively know that we need to and should reach out but because those that are grieving don’t always outwardly display what we may perceive as sadness, loneliness or depression we decide to honor our comfort zone and convince ourselves that we are giving them the space that they need.
We tell ourselves that if they need me, they will let me know. Sadly, this is one of the worst things that we can do. Though completely unintentional and not done purposely; by not reaching out we allow those who are grieving the space to suffer their loss in silence. Unbeknownst to us others personal turmoil while grieving can be emotionally accelerated with feelings of isolation, loneliness and lack of connection with the outside world.
It is essential to understand that by reaching out to those who are grieving we are not taking on the responsibility for their mental and emotional well being. Should you feel as if, your loved one needs professional guidance or emergent help because they are dealing with suicidal thoughts or may cause harm to themselves or others, please encourage them to immediately seek and take advantage of support from a mental health professional.
As friends, family, coworker and other parts of a vital support system simply offering a safety net of love and ensuring the bereaved that they are not alone and that there are others who are there with them along their journey with grief. Reaching out and offering support to someone that is grieving differs significantly from Expressing Your Condolences. By reaching out and showing your support you are taking on the role of a consistent voice or presence while respecting and boundaries and space. 5 No-invasive ways of achieving this are to:
1. Call or Text
Receiving a call or text from someone we know who does not want anything from us other than to see how we are doing when we are feeling low or alone is one of the best feelings in the world. It makes us feel as if we matter as if we are cared for and as if we are important. Giving this simple gift to someone that is grieving can offer a break from their current reality of loss if only for a split second.
2. Extend an Invitation
Rather if it’s inviting them out to a movie or for a lunch date, taking the time and making the effort to get the bereaved out of their routine and into the outside world can make a major difference. Even if your invitations are not initially accepted keep trying.
3. Be Comfortable With the Silence
Do not take personal offense if you do not receive an immediate response to text, phone calls, letters or other communication attempts. If you happen to visit someone that is grieving and they do not have much to say don’t feel uncomfortable or pressured to make conversation. Your presence and efforts do not feel on deaf ears or hearts and mean more than you know.
4. Stay Involved and Consistent
I cannot tell you how many times I have heard someone who was deep within the turmoil of grief say “I looked forward to their weekly phone call or monthly visit”. Rather you know it or not you are offering someone else something to look forward to.
5. Recharge Yourself
Grief is heavy and compassion fatigue and burn out are real. When offering support and reaching out to those who are grieving it is vital that you are actively tending to your own self-care needs. It is impossible to water others from an empty vessel. Remember that it is not your job to “fix” anyone. As humans, we naturally mimic the behavior of those around and closest to us. Setting the positive example of self-care and wellness mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically can inspire the person that you are supporting to do the same.
I’d love to hear from you! What ways have you shown support to someone experiencing grief? Post your comments below or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Joél Simone Anthony, also known as ‘The Grave Woman,’ is a licensed funeral director and embalmer. She is dedicated to eliminating misconceptions about post-life preparation while stimulating an open, honest and straight forward discussion about death. You can submit your comments, questions and requests to email@example.com or by using our contact page.