People grieve for many different reasons. There are many instances when we grieve in life, for the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship, miscarriage, a loved one’s serious illness, job loss, after natural disasters … To really be there for someone who is grieving, we must acknowledge that everyone processes grief in their own way.
Having been through the sudden loss of my brother, grief is something I truly know well. I wasn’t prepared and had no idea how to feel other than incredibly shocked, numb and in terrible emotional pain. Then there was the pain of my parents to consider, the extended family…
Working through your grief is an important part of life, we all lose someone we love eventually, death is truly part of life… and so I thought it might be helpful to post some tips you might find help you move through grief and avoid becoming trapped in it. It’s common to grieve for a year or more after a major loss. Give yourself time, and don’t hesitate in seeking the support you need.
GRIEVING FOR A LOVED ONE:
Firstly it is important to at least attempt to find closure. Refusing to accept someone is gone just prolongs the agony. It is important to find a way to say goodbye to your loved one, whether or not you feel able to attend the funeral.
If it is a close family member or friend and you can get there, you might want to consider speaking at their funeral. If you can’t attend the funeral, you can write something and ask if it can be read for you in tribute. If this is not appropriate for you, then it’s OK to just talk to them, out loud or silently, talk to their picture, or just send thoughts up silently. As a medium I have received countless messages to confirm that they will hear you, however you speak with them it is like prayer..it always reaches its intended destination.
Its ok to cry. In fact its crucial that you do at some point. However, after a week or so try not to let it disrupt your daily life to the point where you can’t function at all during the day. Prolonged heavy grieving 24-7 takes a massive toll on your mind, body and your wellbeing. It’s a fact that people will lose sympathy fast if you cry constantly, I learned this the hard way :0)
Plus if you have children its important to consider they will need you to be there for them at least some of the time too. Its still ok to cry in private whenever you need to having said that.
One message that comes through loud and clear many times when time has passed since a loved one died is “Please don’t feel guilty or sad for me, I’m fine, you will honour me best by living your life to the full!” Your loved one would not thank you for putting your life on hold forever in their name. Its natural to feel a little guilty for trying to move on eventually, but its not valid guilt, living your life to the full is what your loved one expects of you after a while :0)
If you can’t cope, seek help.
Reach out to your friends and family. They may not understand the depth of what you’re going through, but they can and will offer useful support. Make sure you seek additional help if you really can’t cope day to day…especially from people who have experience dealing with grief such as hospice staff and bereavement support groups. Talking to a bereavement counsellor will help …especially if you can’t bear to speak to anyone else around you who is also grieving for fear of upsetting them and prolonging their own grief. Counsellors are professionally trained to help you and will always listen to you even when you feel like no one else will. They can also help answer your questions and provide ideas on healthy ways to remember your loved one. If you can’t bear the thought of speaking face to face with a stranger, try joining an online support group.
Take care of your health. It may be the last thing you feel like doing, but it can make coping more bearable if you are physically well.
Remember the happy times most of all. Your loved one wouldn’t want you to be sad, and remembering the times you’ve laughed together and had fun can help you grieve in a healthy way. Honour those moments instead of dwelling on the actual death itself – physical death is just a transition for all of us to pass through, no matter how difficult or tragic the death, it is fleeting in comparison to the eternity we have and the numerous lifetimes we will live. Physical death is not dwelt upon by the loved one who went through it based on what I’ve been shown by thousands of people who have passed over!
Keep an item that reminds you of your loved one, but don’t hoard everything they ever owned. This can be anything with special meaning, a photo of a happy time together or one of his or her personal items that the family allows you to have.
Some people don’t or can’t express feelings until long after a loss has occurred. Plan an annual memorial celebration around the time of your loved one’s birthday or death. Make it a fun and happy time of remembrance. It also gives you something positive and constructive to do to commemorate and celebrate the life of your loved one. You could even combine this with a donation or event in your loved one’s name for a charity they supported or donate to a memorial fund set up by their family. I built a memorial web page for my brother – it is now 145 pages of what I’ve learned about the spirit world since his passing :0)
Always remember to be respectful of others grieving for your loved one, even if you don’t get along with them.
Let go of “what ifs” “I should haves…” and any guilt about words said or unsaid. We may have argued with a loved one, or not made it to be by their side when they took their final breath, but they will never hold it against you. There is no such thing as resentment or anger once the transition is made to the spirit world, only love and concern for your wellbeing. Holding on to guilt after a bereavement only harms you and the people around you who love you.
If you are having thoughts about suicide or feel that you can’t deal with the grief, please talk to your doctor or counsellor immediately. Avoid alcohol and drugs while you are grieving – bottling up these feelings will not end well, unresolved grief always comes out somewhere in your life… be it now or years later, so please seek someone to speak to who can help you to get through.
Many people find painting, drawing and other creative activities therapeutic. Reading about the experiences of others and the stages of grief may help you.
Grief experts suggest avoiding making any major life changing decisions at a time like this, so put them on hold until you are ready to make them.
HOW TO SUPPORT SOMEONE WHO IS GRIEVING
Some advice for those of you who are trying to support a grieving loved one This advice I give from my own experiences while grieving…
Don’t avoid someone who is grieving just because you don’t know what to do or say. I saw people cross the street to avoid me when I was grieving for my brother, which appalled me!
Above all else: Listen, and listen properly, fully in the present.
Allow the person to express their feelings. Don’t be dismissive or negate the person’s feelings, they have a right to feel however they are feeling.
If you are at a loss for words when you see a grieving friend or relative, just say so…you can tell the grieving person exactly that and its fine. Just being there is more than enough. People don’t always need to talk. Your presence can be a comfort in itself.
Some people will welcome a hug or physical contact when they are upset, others don’t. Again, don’t take it as a personal insult if your hug is shrugged off. Holding a hand, rubbing an arm or giving a hug can provide tremendous comfort, but take the hint if they recoil – its not you so don’t take it personally.
Offer some useful and specific support. “Let me know if there is anything I can do” is less likely to be acted upon than “How about I take the kids to school for you next week?” Allow the grieving person to tell you what they need.
A grieving person will have some heavy mood swings, but you must remember that they aren’t directed at you personally. Anger, sadness, numbness, denial, guilt and acceptance are all part of the grieving process and people may experience any or a combination of these emotions at any given time. Please allow them to express their feelings without judgement and without taking any angry outbursts personally. Many family feuds start over the death of a loved one, often for this very reason.
Never, ever say words to the effect of, “Get over it” – the only time I feel it is ever permissible to mention that it is time to be moving on is when a message is given directly from the person in spirit who is concerned !