We often aren't sure what to do or say when someone we care about is struggling with grief, but being supportive may be easier than you think. Here are some simple ways you can provide encouragement during a difficult time.
Keep family members and friends who are going through the grieving process in your prayers. You can send healing by visualizing the person in white or pink light to symbolize love. Depending on your religious beliefs, Archangels Raphael and Azrael, God, Jesus, and Mother Mary are powerful healers that may be called upon to assist loved ones through the grieving process.
It's that simple. Listen with an open heart and without judgment. Being a good listener doesn't mean you have to have all of the answers or "fix" the situation. It means acknowledging the pain and loss someone is going through. Don't feel the need to say you "understand" what someone is going through if you don't. It's OK to just listen. Be supportive of the range of emotions that may need to be expressed repeatedly over time.
A simple gesture acknowledging the loss of a loved one can go a long way. It could be a card, flowers, phone call, email, or words of encouragement letting the griever know they are not alone during this difficult time. Don't take it personally if the bereaved doesn't respond to your gesture. It is very common for those coping with grief to pull away from friends and family in an effort to process the painful emotions they are experiencing.
The grieving process takes time, sometimes years. Don't be afraid to check-in with someone who has experienced loss by asking them how they are doing. As time goes by we often assume everything is fine but time doesn't always mean the pain is gone. Do your best to be patient and understanding, keeping in mind that everyone processes grief in their own way and in their own time.
Resources: Here are some additional resources in Massachusetts for those who are experiencing grief or would like to learn more about the grieving process.
The Children’s Room, Arlington, www.childrensroom.org
The Good Grief Program, Boston, www.goodgriefprogram.org
Beacon Hospice, locations throughout Mass., www.beaconhospice.com
Bertolon Center for Grief & Healing, North Shore and Greater Boston Area, www.hnsgb.org
Hope Floats Healing & Wellness Center, Kingston, www.hopefloatswellness.com
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Foundation, worldwide, www.ekrfoundation.org