Jeff speaks with Nancy Loeffler of Being With Grief. Nancy provides advice on how to be supportive of those who have gone through a significant loss when someone has passed on, as people often do not know what to say or things that they can do.
Don’t say anything.
When someone has recently lost someone it is not always helpful or comforting for them to hear things such as “He is in a better place” or “Things happen for a reason.” Not saying anything or just offering an ear is sometimes the best approach.
Simply asking what they need is helpful. People who have experienced a loss often think that they don’t need help, when in fact they do. Ask them if you can do something specific, such as grocery shopping or bringing a meal. When I lost my daughter, I came home to find my co-workers cleaning my house and raking my leaves. They also just showed up on the day of the funeral and made breakfast. At another time I would have been appalled, but at that time it was very helpful and comforting to know that they were so supportive and caring.
Where’s the line between asking someone what they need and just going ahead and doing it?
It depends on the relationship. When you are close to someone and know their needs and what they would appreciate, you can just go ahead and do it. However, if you are not very familiar with someone, let them take the lead in finding out what kind of support or assistance you can provide.
Trust your intuition.
Let them know you are there when you need to talk or can just sit with them and not say anything. Tell them that you are o.k. with them crying. Sometimes people aren’t ready or are ready at different times. Know when to back off and know when to push a little. Trust your intuition. If you feel that the person should really not be alone, you could say, “I am just going to sit here with you.” As I said, take the lead from them.
To learn more about coping with and supporting the caregiver role, please contact Nancy at Being With Grief: (919) 500-3848 or www.BeingWithGrief.com.