Comforting a FriendWhen someone you care about has lost a loved one, it can be difficult to know exactly what to say or do. Mourning can be a complicated and personal experience. Of course, the person who has experienced the loss might also turn to you for comfort throughout this time. One thing you want to avoid doing is “outlawing” his or her grief. Essentially, people downplay the importance of grief and can give the impression that someone in mourning is expected to heal from or “get over” the loss within a set amount of time. 

A person who feels like his or her emotions are a burden on others will not be able to properly heal from the death of a loved one. To ensure you are doing what is best for those you care about, consider these tips on how to avoid outlawing grief. 

Be Okay With Emotions

The biggest reason people inadvertently outlaw grief is that intense emotional responses can be difficult to deal with. When someone who has experienced a loss has erratic emotions and shifts between crying and laughing at random, it can make other people feel uncomfortable. The important thing to do for your friend in this situation is to push through the discomfort. It may be awkward at first, but allowing your friend to feel his or her pain is a lot more important in the long run. 

Ask What Is Needed

You never want to assume what someone in mourning is going through. For example, you might not want to invite your friend out for a night of dancing after he or she has suffered a  serious loss. While it might seem like this is the right decision, you have no idea whether your friend could benefit from getting out of the house for some mindless fun. The best thing to do is speak directly with the person in mourning. Ask what he or she needs and attempt to respond appropriately. 

Remember That Memories Matter

When someone you care about is in mourning, he or she is likely going to want to share a lot of stories about the departed. Unfortunately, many people might feel like a burden when it comes to telling these tales. One of the best ways you can help your friend grieve is by encouraging these stories. Ask questions about the departed and show a vested interest in what you are being told. This can help your friend feel heard and make it a bit easier for that person to move through the difficult grieving process.

Understand Shared Grief

It is also important to recognize the idea of “shared grief.” When someone dies, anyone who was close to the person is going to feel the impact. This means that your friend might not be able to process his or her own grief because of constantly needing to comfort other family members, friends, and coworkers. If this is the case, then it can be very helpful if you decide to take time out of your schedule to spend with your friend so that he or she can have someone to talk to and feel comforted by.

Time Heals

Finally, it can be useful to remember that time heals all wounds. While your friend might be in a very bad place at the moment, it will not forever be the case. The loss will always be there, of course, but the intensity of the pain will fade as the years go on. By helping your friend mourn in a way that is healthy, you are encouraging the healing process in a way that works.

“Outlawed grief” comes about when a person in mourning feels like he or she is a burden to others. Do your best to be there and engage in the right ways to help this person get through a difficult time.

Category: Loss

grief communication self care health death

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