- let them choose how they want to express it. If they want to talk and talk and talk; fine. If they don’t want to; or need to try and move on, then that’s fine too. They have no control over losing their loved one; so let them handle this the way they need.
- don’t pretend it hasn’t happened. You don’t have to have perfect words; or even good ones. But acknowledge their loss and their pain. Speak to them if you can; and if not, write. Don’t feel like you need to explain death or defend God or come up with answers. Just tell them you care.
- recognise that death changes relationships: as a family or friend, you will need to adapt the way you do some things. And the goal is not for things to be like they were; they can’t. But you can rebuild.
- know that the grief might ease over time, but it won’t pass. Be there long-term; after the funeral, after people have returned to work. Remember anniversaries; keep visiting, phoning, texting, dropping off meals, staying over if they lost someone they live with.
- remember that grief is individual. Just because your partner or friend handles it in a different way to you, doesn’t mean they don’t feel it. Make allowances for them if they seem offhand and can’t relate well to you – they’re in great pain and trying to cope.
- plan ahead for grief ‘triggers’ like anniversaries, holidays and milestones. If you’re sharing a holiday or event with other relatives, talk to them about their expectations and agree on how you can best support one another.
- recognize that mourning is a process, and you can’t speed it up. Consider different ways of remembering the person you lost, like making a scrapbook of memories, planting a tree, lighting a candle or praying with your minister
- talk about triggers that make them feel upset – this will help you understand if they suddenly seem to go downhill.
- don’t try to fix this. You can’t
- offer practical help. Don’t just say, “I’m here if you need anything.” Tell them what you can do and when, (and be realistic about what you can offer). Make sure you ask before you make changes around the house or with their routines.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on how to help; or what has helped you.