When someone we care about loses someone they love, it can be difficult to find the right words to say to them. Many phrases can seem clichéd and empty. The fear of not knowing what to say can leave many of us saying nothing at all.
The most important thing to remember is that, whilst your friend or family member quite rightly won’t express their gratitude at that point in time, even the smallest gesture or kind word will be greatly appreciated.
Here are our small words of advice on the best ways you can help someone who is grieving.
Don’t ask, do.
A default reaction for many of us is to ask the person grieving if there is anything we can do to help. The truth is, for someone in the midst of grief, the ability to think past the very immediate feels like an impossible task. Instead of asking, we recommend just doing. Whether it’s something as simple as cutting the grass or collecting the kids from school, helping with these daily tasks will be much appreciated. If you know the person is on a certain medication, letting them know you will pick up their prescription or organising a repeat delivery service will go a long way to help ensuring they themselves stay healthy.
Take care of the basics
Although they are given with kindness, bunches of flowers can feel a little suffocating to those grieving. In our experience, making sure your friend or relative has the ‘basics’ covered can be the most useful and kindest gesture of all. Providing them with some home cooked meals wrapped and ready to pop in the freezer, a hamper of daily essentials such as toilet rolls, toothpaste, bathing products and other bits and bobs will ensure their basic needs are covered at a time when they’re often not giving their own needs much thought.
Use your skills
Losing somebody can open up a whole host of administrative duties that can feel overwhelming and unconquerable by those in the midst of grieving. Making sure direct debits are going out on time, cancelling standing orders or informing banks, card providers or utility companies of a person’s passing are all necessary tasks. If you have a close relationship with the person grieving, offering to help them with these tasks can be a huge weight off their shoulders. At Magenta, we have created the Magenta Manual. Our manual is a place for individuals to note down all the information people may require access to when you pass away. It is free to our clients and available at a small fee to others. If your friend or loved one is struggling to identify who they need to contact with regards to financial issues, sitting down with them to find out who needs to be contacted would be a tremendous help. Sourcing contact numbers or addresses can help tick one more administrative task off their mind.
One of the most painful parts of losing someone is the loneliness. We can often feel uncomfortable asking or inviting people who are grieving to join us on ‘fun’ activities. Although they may not wish to in the immediate period after loss, there will come a point where they will enjoy spending time with people close to them and sharing in making memories. The crucial thing is not to stop asking. A gentle text or message inviting them along or offering to pick them up for a couple of hours of being out and about will let them know you’re still thinking about them and value their company.
The most important thing to remember with grief is that it’s very individualised. There are no right or wrong way to grieve and there are no right or wrong ways to offer people comfort or help in their times of need. We hope you’ve found our advice useful. Feel free to share yours and let’s help each other through our difficult times.