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Supporting Grief – ‘If there is anything I can do…….’
Grief and how to help #7
I wonder if we did a survey of the amount of times the offer of “Call me if there is anything I can do” is made, how many times the offer is actually taken up by a grieving person? I am guessing not the often.
As I shared in a previous blog on the Dual Process Approach , there are two things going on simultaneously for a grieving person. The first is the absolute devastation of the loss, while the second, is somehow working out how the practicalities of life can continue, while they are feeling this devastation. There will be days that they become so overwhelmed, that these practicalities are just too hard, and it is much easier just to stay in bed with the curtains drawn.
At this moment do you think they will be thinking ‘who was that person that said, call if you need anything’? No, they probably won’t, but maybe deep down inside, quite subconsciously, they may be hoping for someone, to relieve the isolation, maybe even have some food or help coming in some way. The person probably will not ask for help, but when it comes, they will appreciate it, and be thankful that someone has thought of them.
There are many practical things that you can offer. Doing the shopping, taking the children to school, dealing with bills, doing the washing, cleaning the house, cooking in the house, bringing a meal. Instead of overwhelming the person with ‘anything’ , offer to do something specific, and it will probably be appreciated. So if you call and are just about to say ‘is there anything I can do’ perhaps replace it with ‘would you like me to do the shopping today’ or maybe even ‘would you like me to take you shopping.’ When supporting grief, being practical, when a person is not be able to, may be the best thing you can offer.
We will learn when the significant days are; when times of practical help will be particularly helpful. If you look at a memorial card handed out at a funeral, there are two, the birthday, and date of death. Then there is Christmas, Mothers / Fathers Day, Wedding Anniversaries, and if you are really lucky, you might have other significant days shared with you. Yes, there are the times of sensitive listening, while at other times it will be the practical needs that take priority.
The commentary in this blog is intended to be general in nature. It is just some observations from one fellow traveller in life to another. If anything in this blog raises issues for you, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or consult with a trusted medical professional.