After the loss of a loved one, grief can ebb and flow. People may feel that they have overcome the worst of their grief and then be surprised when they are overwhelmed again through a trigger like a holiday or other event, or even by something as simple as a particular fragrance or everyday occurrence. If you know someone who is grieving, understand that one day will not be like the next, but there are some simple ways that you can support them during their most difficult moments.
Hanna Johnson, Clinical Social Work Care Manager at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® in Newnan, Georgia, recommends the following tips for supporting someone through their grief as they mourn the loss of a loved one.
- Acknowledge what happened.
- Express your concern genuinely without hiding your feelings.
- Offer support physically (run errands, shop, clean, cook or help with yard work).
- Don’t assume you know how the person feels. Instead, ask and then genuinely listen.
- Don’t feel pressure to “make it better” or minimize the loss. Give reassurance and just be there.
- Continue to regularly check on the person and offer support even years later.
- Make it a point to know dates of anniversaries and events that will be difficult for someone who is grieving.
- Be patient; healing ebbs and flows and will take a long time.