As we get older it is inevitable that we will know someone who has lost a loved one – in an accident or otherwise. We often feel inept at helping them through their suffering – and certainly it is advisable that they seek professional counseling from a certified psychologist, psychiatrist or grief counselor. But there are things you can do as well. Consider the following:
*The greatest gift you can give a grieving person is your time. Realize that there is no ‘correct’ way to grieve so do not be judgmental – simply offer an empathetic ear.
*Realize that there is no grieving ‘timetable’. A person will likely never recover fully from the loss of a loved one but in time they may return to some semblance of their prior existence. It is not your place to pressure them to ‘get over it’ or ‘move on’. We cannot know truly what a person is going through – we can just ‘be there for them’.
*Be accepting of any and all emotions the person wishes to express. They may be ‘angry’ at the individual for ‘leaving them’ or they may be feeling guilty that they survived when their loved one didn’t.
*Allow the grieving individual to talk about the person who has died. They will probably want to reminisce at length – this behavior is actually cathartic and can help a person come to terms with the death.
Encourage them to seek professional counseling as well – invite them to your church and give them the gift of your time – that is the best way to help a grieving friend.
Sometimes the best thing we can do for someone hurting is listen with an empathetic ear and be there for them in their hour of need.
Greg Baumgartner helps families who have lost a loved one seek civil justice.