Supporting Each Other Through Loss, Grief and Illness

October 11th, 2012 · No Comments ·

When someone you know is going through a divorce, grieving the death of a loved one, is seriously ill or experiencing any major life change, these helpful tips may help you in your efforts to be supportive:

When someone is ill, remember that they are still the same person that you knew beforehand. They may have changed physically, but they are still the same living person on the inside. You do not need to fear doing or saying the wrong thing, in fact it would be better to take that risk rather than avoiding the illness and making the person feel isolated.

It is ok and important to be honest about your concerns and feelings. If the “right thing” to say is not on the tip of your tongue, it’s good to acknowledge your own fears and any other feelings so that the person we are supporting would feel more comfortable expressing his or her own feelings or fears.

The simple acknowledgement of the loss, whatever kind of loss it is, can be beneficial and healing for the individual suffering the loss. Done in a non-invasive way, this can relieve tension and let it be known that you care.

Be realistic and honest about your own limitations and offerings of support. Also be specific about what you can and cannot do and see what the person you are supporting wants. Simply stating, “Call me whenever you need me,” may be helpful, but the person suffering the loss may already be confused about what he or she needs.

Accept your own feelings of ambivalence towards the grieving person. It can be very difficult to deal with another’s illness, grief, or loss. Their situation may remind you of your own losses or potential losses and stir up old and new emotions for which you may be unprepared. Also, the person may be moody and unpredictable, lashing out on you every once in awhile. Realize that you have good reason to have negatives feelings toward the grieving person, while also realizing that this person needs your love and support.

If you have time to research the process of grief and life change, do so.

Giving them handouts or suggesting community resources may help lead the one you are supporting through the process of grief, especially when they are suggested by a close person that truly cares.

Finally, send a card, a letter, or check up on the grieving person a few months or weeks after the devastating loss. While mourning, the world may seem likes it’s spinning around and around. Let them know that you continue to care.

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