Saturday, September 4, 2010

Helping the bereaved

I found this list via This Blog that someone had shared with me. I absolutely agree with it all. No one really prepares for this kind of thing to happen, and so when it does, most people don't know what to do or say. I understand what DO you say and do? I wouldn't have known how to help someone let alone know how to deal with it myself. So I hope this helps a little for those of you who are and will comfort others through such a difficult time.

"This is a list I will add to as I think of things that you can do for someone you love to be a support and friend through their grief. I know a lot of people just "don't know what to say/do" so they don't do anything. Not doing anything is the wrong answer. Hopefully this list can help you help the ones you love in their journey of Grief."

1. First and foremost TALK about the loved one who's passed. Even if it's uncomfortable at first, it will become easier.

2. If you didn't know the person at all or very well, ask to hear about them and learn of them through stories.

3. Don't ever put a time line on someone's grief.

4. Saying things like, "They are in a better place." Really isn't comforting. It makes the bereaved feel like the place they had with them wasn't good.

5. If you don't know what to say, just say, "I'm So sorry you have to go through this."

6. If the person needs to analyze the circumstances surrounding the death, let them just talk and rehash anything as many times as they need to.

7. Don't assume they are ever "better." It never gets better and will be a part of them for the rest of their lives.

8. Don't underestimate how frazzled, abscent minded & spacey grief can make you.

9. Pamper them if you have means. Retail Therapy worked great for me! So did pedicures and getting my hair done, I felt awful on the inside, at least I could try to feel good about me on the outside.

10. Love notes. Emails. Thinking of You cards. Thinking of the bereaved person cards.

11. Do not, I stress
Do not get offended if your loved one doesn't answer his/her phone or return your calls. Don't assume that they don't appreciate your effort. It's just that someone bereaved doesn't want to put on a "happy voice." and burden everyone with their grief.

12. Most bereaved people will not offer information on how they are doing unless they truly feel like you want to know.

13. Validate.Validate.Validate. Please whatever you do, don't compare your loved ones loss to someone elses' "harder loss". Every loss is hard. Comparing makes the person feel like they shouldn't struggle because it could be worse.

14. The comment "but aren't you grateful you know you'll see them again" isn't comforting. It is not a fix all. It is comforting, but it doesn't take the pain out of not having them now.

15. Just make sure they know you love them. Be a shoulder to cry on.

~~ I have a few myself that I wanted to add along with the others that I found helpful:

1. I know sometimes I haven't felt like talking on the phone much these first few weeks, but have very much appreciated the emails, letters, notes, texts, etc giving me words of comfort or just saying they're thinking of me.

2. It makes me happy and comforted to know that there's people who are not only giving Tim, Faith and I support and love, but to my family and Tim's family as well. I'm grateful for that because I wish I were more in a position to comfort them and be there for them. So it's nice to not only share condolences and love with the immediate family but extended as well.... in my ignorance I sometimes forget there are more people than just me that are grieving over this great loss.

3. Instead of saying "Let me know if there's anything I can do" make a plan and tell them "Let me watch your other kid while you and hubby get out" or "I want to bring you in a meal, when would work best?" or something like that. I think that most people including myself don't actually let someone know if there's something they can do. We're stubborn. :) I know I am...I know there's people that can vouch for that. ;)
You kind of have to take control since those grieving feel like they're losing control and don't even know how to help themselves. Maybe I'm just speaking for myself, but that's my 2 cents on the matter.

Let me just repeat how grateful I am for everyone's love, prayers, support and generosity, I could not have held up without it all. I am tremendously grateful.


Traci said...

What a great post, Laura! It is so hard I think for anyone to know what to do and say. I love the additions you have as well. It's helpful to let others know how they can be helpful, because I'm sure most everyone wants to be there for you however they can (I certainly do). I love all of your beautiful family. Thanks for putting up this blog, for not only yourself but also the rest of us who learn through reading it. Love you. Wish I could be there for you and Tim.

cheryl said...

Laura, these are all wonderful especially your personal add ons. So true. Even people here in Oregon that hardly know me send their love to you, Tim, and Faith. We wish we could be there but I hope you know we are thinking about you everyday. Thank you for doing this blog it is helping more people than you realize. Although we may not comment a lot we keep up with it constantly! We Love you guys!!

The Sutton's said...

Thanks for this blog post. It is hard to know what to do and say. It is nice to know what to do to help you guys. You are all in my prayers. We look forward to seeing you guys!!!

Lisa R.D. said...

Thanks for this post... it is so helpful to know how to be helpful (or not so helpful). I struggle often with what to say and do, so this is wonderful. We love you!

A.Larson said...

This is so great, thanks so much for posting this. The last paragraph makes so much sense to me, it's exactly how I felt a few weeks ago when my husband was diagnosed with cancer. So I guess the advice could apply to people who have just had traumatic news of any any sort, as well. I really didn't know how to help myself and I felt like I was loosing control. Thank heavens for those who just showed up and did something for me, brought food, took my kids outside to play, gave me a hug, left things on the porch, etc.
I haven't stopped thinking about you and your family since you posted about your sweet daughter's passing. You are still in my prayers and I admire your courage and faith. ♥

lArZ said...

@A.Larson.... you are so right, this advice is not just for the bereaved, it's for those who are traumatized with the struggle of loved ones also. Thank you for pointing that out. I am so, so sorry about your husband...I hope and pray all goes well with him and that you both may be comforted through this. I can actually say I know how you feel, as my mom had cancer a few years ago, but is a proud surviver! I have hope that he may be too.