For those who have never experienced grief, it can be difficult to define and understand. But if you have endured a deep loss, then you may be familiar with many of the emotions that arise – sadness, loneliness, confusion, anger and many more.
When someone falls out of our lives, it can seem impossible to comprehend the chasm that is left. What are we meant to do? How can our world ever make sense again? So many questions arise. And often, the answers are elusive.
On top of this, everyone responds to grief differently. Some people don’t appear to suffer greatly – they pick up their lives and move on. For others, the pain of a loss is so immense that they become immobile. Some people appear as if nothing has changed, displaying little outward emotion. Others grieve publicly – their tears and wails present for the world to see.
Because grief is so personal, responses and needs following a loss can be vast and varied. Due to this often-puzzling nature of grief, it can be challenging for loved ones to know how to respond. We want to provide aid, we want to display our sympathy, we want to make things better. Oftentimes, we even want to be able to remove the pain and suffering our loved ones are experiencing. So, what to do?
The first step is to recognize that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to grieve. The most important thing is for people to be allowed to experience their loss in a way that is healing to them. Supporting those who are grieving by permitting them to feel and process in their own unique way is often times the best “gift” we can give them.
While there are many ways to support those we love during their time of loss – and we’ll be sharing several suggestions in our next post – the first step is often just listening. Pay attention to their cues and determine what they need – be it time, solitude, company or just someone to sit by their side.