Some Suggestions To Help Those in Grief
I would sooner bring a blanket than flowers and cards to offer genuine comfort for someone in grief. A new cozy throw can say ‘it’s okay to be not okay’ without having to put it into words. As one who adores cards I have learned through my own grief that cards didn’t help (I read them, but not until much later). If you bring flowers, bring them IN a vase or be ready to find one and cut the flowers for it. Don’t let your grieving friend prep the flowers themselves because that’s not helping the situation; it’s making them work (of course they might love the distraction of doing it, so just be aware).
Bring them food but don’t expect it to be eaten right away. Offer it and if not wanted immediately, put it in their fridge. Bring sandwiches and fresh fruit for easy snacking, and small containers of casseroles or meals that can be heated later (label contents and add directions if needed). Small nutritious meals are the best but perhaps some decadent comfort foods can help get them to eat something. Also bring nutritious beverages like tea and juice (or good coffee, but it’s wise to avoid alcohol – in my experience anyways; hangovers just make everything worse).
Allow the silence. Words mostly fail during times of tragedy anyways but being nearby can help more than you may realize. Be there without fussing over them (unless of course that comforts them but for me and many others, please don’t fuss or be too busy). Let them cry if they need to, or sleep, or rant even. Just listen. Make some tea, watch something together or sit in silence. Read on your own, and let them stare or sleep. Perhaps even reading out loud to help them fall asleep on the couch. There’s tremendous healing to be found and comfort to be offered in just being with someone.
Pray. For yourself. For your friend who is in grief. For everyone in and around the situation. People you might know and those you’ve never met. Survivors who were there. The victims’ families and loved ones. Emergency responders and doctors. Everyone who’s been affected. Pray to find your connection with Source, with God. Whatever word you use and whether you turn to the scriptures or chime a bell and meditate deeply or spend time doing yoga or going for a walk. Whatever works to bring you closer in contact with the highest, brightest source of light and love within your heart, do that! Pray so that you may shine healing Love onwards and outwards. Radiate the biggest feelings of compassion you can generate. It’s important and it helps, I believe, more than we can comprehend or realize. Praying is one of the most essential things you can do to help after a tragedy.
Copyright © 2014 Gina ~ Professions for PEACE
“Faith is not belief. Belief is passive. Faith is active.” ~Edith Hamilton
Click to view images on a Pinterest board I’ve compiled about grief
From an excellent article on helping the grieving at HelpGuide.org:
Comments to avoid when comforting the bereaved
▪ “I know how you feel.” One can never know how another may feel. You could, instead, ask your friend to tell you how he or she feels.
▪ “It’s part of God’s plan.” This phrase can make people angry and they often respond with, “What plan? Nobody told me about any plan.”
▪ “Look at what you have to be thankful for.” They know they have things to be thankful for, but right now they are not important.
▪ “He’s in a better place now.” The bereaved may or may not believe this. Keep your beliefs to yourself unless asked.
▪ “This is behind you now; it’s time to get on with your life.” Sometimes the bereaved are resistant to getting on with because they feel this means “forgetting” his or her loved one. In addition, moving on is easier said than done. Grief has a mind of its own and works at its own pace.
▪ Statements that begin with “You should” or “You will.” These statements are too directive. Instead you could begin your comments with: “Have you thought about. . .” or “You might. . .”
Be the one who takes the initiative. There are many practical ways you can help a grieving person.
You can offer to:
▪ Shop for groceries or run errands
▪ Drop off a casserole or other type of food
▪ Help with funeral arrangements
▪ Stay in their home to take phone calls and receive guests
▪ Help with insurance forms or bills
▪ Take care of housework, such as cleaning or laundry
▪ Watch his or her children or pick them up from school
▪ Drive him or her wherever they need to go
▪ Look after their pets
▪ Go with them to a support group meeting
▪ Accompany them on a walk
▪ Take them to lunch or a movie
▪ Share an enjoyable activity (game, puzzle, art project)