Helping others cope with bereavement
Helping someone who is bereaved – knowing when to give them space or what to say – can be very difficult. We asked two experts for their practical advice...
Practical ways to help
The first week after someone has passed away is usually very stressful. Your loved one may need help with registering the death, planning the funeral, as well as taking care of themselves.
Nicola Dias, from Cruse Bereavement Care, says there are some practical ways you can offer support.
“It’s important you’re there for them as emotional support but also to offer some practical help. That could be to help arrange the funeral, do some food shopping, or cooking them a meal – this helps remind them that there’s someone thinking and caring about them.”
If the funeral hasn’t already been planned, it can be very hard for those left behind to make plans. Offer to help make decisions, such as which hymns, flowers and readings to choose.
KEEP THEM TALKING
It’s important for the bereaved person to feel they can open up fully to you. As a friend, they may feel they can be more honest with you than with their own family.
Create a space where they feel comfortable to talk and get upset. Invite them to your home for tea and some food. Ensure you won’t be disturbed, that the setting is peaceful and quiet and that neither of you has to rush off. This will help them feel at ease to talk about their emotions without being judged.
“Make a quiet environment with no distractions, where you can have that one-to-one time to talk without time constraints for a free-flowing conversation. Don’t probe them too much, but encourage them to talk about how they’re feeling,” says Nicola.
Give them space
Remember your friend may not feel they can talk to you, or may not want to see you. Nicola says this is normal. “They might feel guilty about not being able to say what they wanted to say to their loved one, or they might feel angry about the way the death has come about and want to process all that by themselves, so it’s important to understand that.”
If they’re acting this way, respect their space but let them know that you’re there when they’re ready to talk.
Special dates can bring painful memories and trigger emotions. There are a few kind things you can do to make that tough day a little more bearable.
“Go for a nice meal, or go to the late person’s favourite place for the day to remember them,” says Nicola. “Although it could cause sadness that their loved one isn’t there, it’s also likely to make the bereaved person feel closer to the one they miss.”