When someone dies, the bereaved are often bombarded with condolences and sympathetic acts. In the days and weeks that follow a death, the family often receives many casseroles as well as cards and flowers. Well-wishers and mourners call and come to the house, and all the attention can sometimes be overwhelming.
As time goes by, however, the attention shifts and fades. People get distracted. Grief continues, though, and people who have suffered a loss can begin to feel isolated. They may still need help, but after the onslaught of assistance after the funeral, they may be embarrassed to ask for more. These feelings of isolation and discomfort can be detrimental to the healing process.
Reaching out after some time has passed is a good way to help a friend who is grieving. Wait until the initial rush has died down, and then call to see what your friend really needs. Maybe it’s practical assistance such as cleaning out a closet, going to the grocery store, taking care of children or preparing a meal. On the other hand, your friend may appreciate some distraction. You might suggest going out for a cup of coffee or just a long walk.
The best thing you can do for a grieving friend is to be a compassionate listener. Listen for clues as to what your friend really needs. Listen to what he or she is really feeling as well. Give your friend the space and freedom to tell the story of what happened and to share memories as often as they want. You might even offer to help your friend go through photos and create an album honoring the deceased person. Grief shared is grief lessened, and that applies long after the funeral is over and the mourners have gone home.
Chapel of the Chimes Oakland has been helping families find their way through grief and onto the path to healing since 1909, and we would be honored to help you navigate this unfamiliar terrain. Call us at (510) 379-5200 to find out how we can help.