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Supporting grief will require patience
Grief and how to help #3
It was great that you were brave enough to take the call. Now you have been invited to share in the inner world of someone’s grief journey. It is the partner of a long time friend of yours that has died, and you have know the one left behind, a little over your friendship. This is a privilege indeed, and should not be taken as opportunity to ‘fix things.’ Rather it is an opportunity to listen, really listen, and to provide an opportunity for the person to ‘unpack’ the loss that they have experienced.
The person will be constantly thinking about their loss. It will be keeping them awake at night, there will be anger, tears and unbearable pain. Accept that no matter how much you want to, there is no ‘switch to flick ‘ to take the pain away. Trying to cheer up a bereaved person denies the significance and the loss and their grief. Grief is critical, a way to heal, adjusting to a ‘new normal’ and is absolutely necessary.
As I shared last post, reach out to offer support, however that needs to be. Every situation will require something different. Many bereaved people are concerned about being a burden on friends of family, and although will dismiss any support as a burden, will be secretly hoping for support, and will be appreciated when offered in the right way.
There is no time limit. Supporting someone in grief will require patience, as mourning takes lot of time, and grief will never go away entirely. Understand that everyone grieves in their own way and own pace, because everyone’s journey is unique. Also accept the fact that when it comes to grief, the bereaved person’s significance they place on their loss, and the depth of feelings, is their reality. It is not your reality, so ask them to help you to understand. If the relationship is open, and safe, there will be some amazing and wonderful insights shared. There is no right way to grieve, so avoid criticising how someone is grieving; you cannot know what is best for them.
And finally on self care; that it looking after yourself, so you can be the best support you can be. If you have experienced a loss, it could be that your own grief may be triggered. Personal feelings of loss or grief may be related to this death, or to losses that have happened in your own past. If you find this is happening, ensure that you take time out for yourself, whether this is prayer, meditation, walking on the beach; whatever works for you.
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.