Loneliness and isolation can be a common feeling after a loss, and it can be helpful to increase emotional support.
Contact the bereaved person as soon as possible, attend the funeral service or memorial if possible.
Simply being there to help out, to listen, or to share stories can be helpful. Acknowledge the difficult feelings such as anger, regret or relief. Allow the bereaved person to talk and express their grief in whatever way they need. Allow tears, allow them to cry or to express a range of emotions.
Focus on listening rather than fixing up or providing solutions. It is a natural response to want to fix problems and reduce pain. The reality is that there is nothing anyone can say that will fix losing a loved one, or bring back a future lost. The most important help is to provide comfort and support – to allow grieving to occur.
If they don’t want to talk, sit in silence. Prepare a meal or just provide company. Holding a person’s hand can help if appropriate. use the name of the deceased person. They may want you to talk about your memories of a person, or it may be too painful. It is okay to ask. It is rarely helpful to give advice or compare your grief with theirs.
Other practical ideas include helping with housework, answering the phone, stocking the fridge or preparing a meal that can be reheated.
Encourage self-compassion – it is important to take time for yourself when grieving, and do things that would typically make you happy, such as taking a long hot bath or going for a walk.
Eating well, getting enough sleep, and taking time out for self-care is important. Encourage kindness to the self, and to forgive others who may not know how to support, or how to find the right words to connect. If you are unsure how to support your grieving friend, it is okay to ask them.
Excessive alcohol or drug use during the grieving process is unhelpful, as it can lead to the suppression of feelings, or acting out of anger.
If you or a loved one are experiencing difficulty coping with loss, there are a number of therapies that can help. Our warm, friendly and compassionate psychologists can work with you to help you through this difficult time.