5 Ways to Help a Grieving Family
When a friend or family member passes, it is important to be there for their family. It is hard for a family to deal with all of the responsibilities and ramifications of a lost family member; and overwhelming grief on top of it all. Being present in the healing process can give your loved ones some reprieve in their time of need. Families have to rearrange their whole lives to deal with a lost loved one, a now missing income, and one less set of hands to help around the house. Below are five ways to lend your support to a grieving family.
Families in bereavement are often not really thinking about their own needs. The first few days after the death of a loved one, they put their lives on hold and scramble to make funeral arrangements, and contact family members. Afterwards, they have to figure out how to put their lives back together while racked with immense grief. A home cooked meal is probably the last thing on the agenda. Making a meal for a grieving family can be a great way to help them out during their time of sorrow. Many people send food during the funeral, but less so afterwards. A home cooked meal can still be greatly appreciated even a few weeks afterwards.
Sometimes a family just needs help picking up the slack. Schedules are often thrown out the window when a loved one passes. There is a lot that needs to be done after the funeral to get everything back to where it can constitute as somewhat “normal.” Offering to run errands, or just helping around the house can be a great help to a grieving family.
Some people need help cleaning out their deceased loved one’s belongings. This can be a challenging time, where even the smallest items can bring back waves of grief. It can be important for family members to have a support network to help with this. Without some help, survivors often either hoard everything like they were precious momentos, or toss everything away. It is important that they find some balance in this. It can be cathartic to hold on to some important items, but a whole wardrobe is usually too much. Help them sort through the deceased’s belongings. Help them figure out what can be donated, thrown out, kept, or given to other family members.
This may sound simple, but it is probably the most important point on our list. You don’t have to be attached to the family, or take on all of the roles of the deceased. But you should try to be there for your grieving loved ones when you can. Grief has no time limit, no set rules of when you become free of the pain. Everyone grieves at a different rate, and it can be hard to navigate your own grief, let alone another person’s. But if you can offer an open ear and a shoulder to cry on when they need it, you will be able to help them out more than you may realize. Check up on them with a phone call once in a while.
Help Them Pause
You should help your loved ones understand that it is OK to put a pause on their grief every once in a while to take care of their own needs. Sometimes they need to distract themselves from their hurt. Go see a movie with them, or just try to have some fun with them. Have a game night with some friends, and bring them along. Let them know that it is OK to have fun.
Try not to push them too much. Don’t expect them to move on, but help them understand that it is alright to overcome their grief, in their own time. Some people feel guilty when they stop grieving. But it is perfectly reasonable to come out of your grief as needed.
Don’t Forget About Them
It can be easy to overlook a loved one’s pain after some time has passed. But grief has a tendency to flair up on occasion. Special days, like holidays or birthdays, can be especially rough. Anniversaries can be incredibly difficult for widow(er)s. The anniversary of their loved one’s death can also take a heavy toll. Check up on them around these times. These usually jovial times can often be a source of great heartache as memories of years past flood back to them. Help them celebrate those good memories.
The author of this post is not a professional therapist or counselor. For assistance in finding a grief counselor that is right for you, there are a number of resources out there. For our Grief Resource center, written by Dr. Bill Webster, click here.
For almost 50 years, Matthew Funeral Home has been serving the Staten Island community. We can help with almost every aspect of your loved one’s memorial service. Our family is here to serve yours, every step of the way.