The greatest loss we will ever experience is death of a loved one. Death is the only guarantee in life and it is completely final. Coming to terms with death is just plain hard and painful, there is no way around the pain.
That all being said if someone significant in your life has experienced this great loss it is important that you do everything you can to provide support through this incredibly difficult process.
How to Help Your Loved One With Loss
Just Be There
No you cannot take the pain away and you likely can’t even help subdue the pain, but you can simply just be there. Physically being there provides a level of support. It may feel like your presence is not helping, but you are wrong. Just being there can help your loved one feel supported even if they are not showing it.
You Don’t Need to Say Anything
When someone passes it is far too common to hear, “I don’t know what to say”, that is absolutely fine. Don’t say anything, again just be there for support.
Don’t Ask What They Need
When grieving, most people have not idea what they need, so don’t ask. They are emotionally overwhelmed and likely have no idea what they actually need.
Make Life Easier
Grief can affect everyone differently and the best way to show support through the grieving process is to help make life easier. Bring them dinner, watch their children, help them clean up around the house, etc. Avoid offering and just do. Again, when grieving, most people have no idea what they actually need, but the daily tasks are normally what begin to suffer. Do anything you can just to help make daily life easier.
Help Them Through the Five Stages of Grief
While everyone experiences grief differently there are five basic stages everyone goes through; denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Simply be there and be supportive as they go through all five stages. Avoid saying anything about the fives stages, but simply be aware of what stage your loved one is going through. Which stage of grief will largely affect their behavior.
Examples of what you might hear/see during the stages:
Denial – “This can’t be real. They can’t be gone.”
Anger – “I am so upset at them. Why would they do this?”
Bargaining – “What if they would have made a different choice? What if I had been there?”
Depression – Nothing may be said here, you might simply notice your loved one sliding into a state of depression. Possibly pulling away from loved ones, not enjoying activities they once did, giving up on things they once valued, etc.
Acceptance – “They are gone and now I need to figure out how to move on without them.”
Be a Shoulder to Cry on
Let them cry. Let them be angry. Let them express their emotions in whatever way they need to.
Bring in Extra Help
Death impacts everyone differently and it is important for your loved one to know that there are resources to help them get through this time. Support groups and seeing a therapist can help provide additional support to get through this difficult time.