Death and loss can be tricky to navigate, especially if you’re supporting someone who has been bereaved. Whether they’re a close friend, family member or even a colleague, people often worry that they’ll say the ‘wrong thing’ or that people need space to grieve. While that may be the case for some, for others, knowing that there’s support available can go a long way. If you’re looking for some guidance on how to support a loved one in their grief, we wanted to share our advice.
Listen to them
Listening is the best thing you can do for your loved one right now. This means listening to how they’re feeling, what they need right now, and also how you can best support them. Remember to respect what you’re hearing and despite your best intentions, don’t assume that you know best. But, if they’re choosing not to open up right now, try not to worry. Instead, calmly let them know that you’re there to listen as, when and if they need you.
Remember the person they lost
It can feel like when someone dies, they shouldn’t be spoken about for fear of bringing up painful emotions. But when a person dies, it can sometimes feel like they’ve been erased or forgotten. So for some people, it can offer some comfort for those grieving to share memories and experiences with a person they’ve lost. If you want to gauge whether someone is ready to talk about their loved one, perhaps start by asking them, “Would you like to share any memories of with me?” or “What’s the one thing you’ll never forget about ?”
Don’t avoid contact
Experiencing silence after a bereavement can make the person grieving feel isolated and alone. This can amplify the feelings of sadness and make the loss feel even more impactful. If you want to show your support without feeling like you’re imposing, you may want to avoid phone calls or showing up at their home without notice for the time being. Instead, try sending messages that don’t necessarily require a response. For example, “No need to respond to this, but I wanted to let you know that I’m thinking of you. I’m here if and when you need me.” This will often go a long way, and your loved one can then decide how or if they wish to respond at that moment.
Signpost additional support
You mean well, but you can’t have all of the answers. If you think they feel ready to do so and/ or would be interested in speaking to someone outside of their circle, you may want to point them towards some charitable organisations. We work alongside some carefully selected charity partners who can offer support to those who need it, and you can find a full list available here.
Adapting to life after loss can be a challenge. So try to remain as supportive as possible and listen to your loved one’s needs – more now than ever. The grieving process is not linear so you may find that their emotions fluctuate and some days will be harder than others. But offering a listening ear and creating an open, supportive dialogue can go a long way.
No one should feel alone when they’re dealing with loss. So if you are struggling right now, please visit our Bereavement Support page for more information.