It never ceases to amaze me how ill prepared we are for death. We don’t know how to talk to our family and friends about it. We shy away from comforting people who are experiencing loss, or we talk to them in a way that does not really help them.
Here are some of my thoughts and tips for talking with people in grief.
1. Be present. What does that mean? It means to pay attention to what the person needs in the moment.
2. Check in. that means periodically calling or dropping by. You are letting the person know that you care and are aware of their feelings. Also they may not have the energy to call you to ask for something, this saves them from having to reach out to you.
3. Ask questions that are specific and appropriate. An example of this would be, instead of asking “What can I do for you? You can ask, would it be ok,if I dropped by on Saturday for a short visit? Would it be ok if I dropped off dinner on Tuesday night? I want to help you with some of your chores, what day can I come?
4. Be silent when your friend or family members needs quiet time.
5. Don’t assume. People assume how people are feeling or what they are needing, and you may be completely off course to what the person really wants and needs.
6. Don’t give advice: You should do this or you should do that or I someone that did this and it helped them. This is not really helpful when someone is grieving ( for most people).
7. Don’t push people to get better quickly. Grieving has its own rhythms and timing. Pushing people to participate or join in activities too soon can backfire on the person making them feel worse.
8.. Grief is personal, everyone has their own way of handling their pain. There is no specific timeline that works the same for everyone.
9. Just let your love for the person in grief surround them. They will know you are there and that you care about them.