Sometimes, it’s hard to know how to help a loved one dealing with sorrow and tragedy. It’s difficult to know what to say, what to do, and how to react, and sometimes, it’s all too easy to say and do the wrong thing when you’re trying to help. Here are three useful “do’s” and “don’ts” of consoling loved ones.
DO: Listen to Your Loved One
Listening may sound like a trite response to a tragic situation. However, it’s harder than it sounds. Listen to your loved one vent out their frustrations no matter how unfair, despairing, or irrational their frustrations may be. Listen actively away from electronics and other distractions.
DON’T: Minimize Their Pain
Phrases like, “look on the bright side” and “it’s not as bad as it seems” are often said with love and with every intent of cheering a loved one who is struggling. However, these phrases can do serious damage to grieving loved ones and make them feel as if their pain is not validated.
DO #2 Take Action
Grief can hinder a person’s abilities to perform daily tasks. Look for needs that you can meet by performing daily tasks for your loved one. Big or small, the action will speak volumes. Go out and get groceries, help with children, make dinner, do laundry, or anything to alleviate life’s pressures.
DON’T #2 Make Blanket Offers of Help
A lot of times, a grieving person is too entrenched in pain to know what they need help with. Blanket statements like, “call me if you need anything” are a kind gesture, but they are not helpful. It is highly unlikely a grieving person will think of something for you to do. Be active and look for ways to help without needing to be asked.
Do #3 Watch for Serious Signs
Grief can lead to depression. If your loved one begins to show signs of serious depression such as neglect of hygiene, excessive use of alcohol, or even talk of suicide, get them help from a professional in medical informatics or with an extensive background in therapy and counseling.
DON’T #3 Force Them to Heal Faster
Grief is a long process. Be patient, allow them all the time they need to heal. Encourage them to get up every day, and to get out of the house. However, avoid telling them to “move on” or to “put the past behind them”.
Always be a support for your grieving loved ones. This is a time when they need your love and support the most. Knowing that you are there for them can a huge difference in their healing process.