First of all, I did not write this article all by myself. It has been an article that has been shaped by the answers to my call “how would/do you want to be treated while you are grieving?” two weeks ago. I am deeply indebted to all who have accompanied to this article with their words and/or their hearts. Thanks.
Why this article? Because we know neither to grieve nor to treat someone who is grieving. We are grief illiterate.
How is someone in grief talked to? What does the person in grief have difficulty hearing? Would you like to learn?
You who are in grief would you perhaps like to share this with others while your needs are worded?
You might need to be careful with the following points while you are with someone in grief although grief is a process with many layers and which depends on the person.
1- Grief belongs to the one experiencing it
Everyone’s grief is unique. When it happens to you, you might want to grieve differently, but don’t forget that this grief does not belong to you.
Some would like to be oppressed with their grief being alone while others being with their nuclear family, and still some others being with the crowd.
Some would prefer to cry more and some less.
Still, some would like to talk about the memories of the dead person while others would prefer to keep silent.
Everybody would like to experience their grief in a different way.
2- Don’t categorize the grief of anyone
There are no big or small losses. Grief has significance for that person.
Don’t say “Are you grieving for this?”. Don’t forget: “Hell is not the place where we suffer. It is the one where no one knows that we suffer”.
3- Let the person the way s/he is
Don’t shy away from her/his feeling pain or crying if s/he wants to do so. Don’t find emotional ups and downs strange. Don’t criticize her/his keeping quiet one moment and her/his crying the next. These are the important parts of the grieving process.
4- Before making a suggestion, ask her/him if s/he needs to hear this. Get her/his approval.
Remember that her/his burden is heavy. Don’t forget that everything you will say, albeit with good intentions, might increase the burden.
5- Be there for her/him. What s/he only needs could be your witnessing.
A dialogue within witnessing. There is no reply/interference to what the person says. Sometimes the greatest gift is to be with the person within silence. Give her/him your time and silent existence.
6- Slow down with them.
Our soul could sympathize with the pain caused by death and losses only by slowing down. It is necessary to slow down to be stronger. Slow down with the griever and remind her/him to do so if s/he does not slow down.
7- Don’t pity the state of her/him.
The comments you make pitying her/him might lead to permanent injuries. Don’t forget how sensitive a person in grief is.
8- Don’t give advice. Don’t diagnose. Don’t try to heal or fix the impossible.
Grief is a process to be experienced by going through it. The pains experienced during this process are real and severe. Please remind yourself frequently that it is not a situation to be fixed by your advice.
“This has gone too far. I think you should see a doctor”.
“It would be better if you took a sedative”.
“Don’t isolate yourself. Blend in with the crowd”.
“If you…., it will take you out of yourself”.
9- Don’t use cliches.
Don’t use cliche sentences which don’t meet the need of the griever or which don’t serve he grieving period. If you cannot find to say other than these, keep silent.
“Life goes on “.
“Time heals all wounds”.
“Everything will be okey”.
“Don’t be sad”.
“Be strong “.
“You look better”.
10- Don’t ask too many questions.
The things you are curious about could wear the griever out. You don’t have to know every detail. You can give your support without asking questions as well.
11- Be of help with the things to be done. Make your presence felt.
Not “Call me when you need”. Ask “What do you need?” instead.
The griever might have the fear of being a burden to you. S/he might miss the things to be done due to the severity of her/his grief. Get involved within her/his consent. Be practical. Take on the routines you “Call her/his house. Wash her/his car. Take her/his dog for a walk. Help her/his child with her/his lessons. Do the shopping if necessary.
Don’t wait for her/him to call you.
Your help should be sustainable.
12- This process is not about you.
You might find it hard to help someone in grief period. You could feel neglected and hurt. You might not be living through the best periods of your relationship.
Don’t take the reactions of the griever personally.
And the most importantly, don’t deny your respect, love, affection and understanding to the griever.