How to support someone in their grief?

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When supporting someone in their grief the most important thing is to simply listen. Grief is a very confusing process, expressions of logic are lost on the griever. The question “tell me how you are feeling” followed by a patient and attentive ear will seem like a major blessing to the grief stricken. Be present, reveal your caring, listen. Your desire is to assist your friend down the path of healing. They will find their own way down that path, but they need a helping hand, an assurance that they are not entirely alone on their journey.

The bereaved need and want to talk about their loss, including the most minute details connected to it. Grief shared is grief diminished. Each time a griever talks about the loss, a layer of pain is shed.

There is no quick fix for the pain of bereavement. Of course, grievers wish they could be over it in six months. Grief is a deep wound which takes a long time to heal. That time frame differs from person to person according to each person’s unique circumstances.

Glen Davidson, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and thanatology at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine tracked 1,200 mourners. His research show an average recovery time from 18 to 24 months.

Based on her years of working with terminal cancer patients, Kübler-Ross proposed the following pattern of phases many people experience:

  1. Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.”
  2. Anger: “Why is this happening? Who is to blame?”
  3. Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will ____.”
  4. Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”
  5. Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what has happened.”

Know that death ends a life, but it does not end a relationship. The bond you have with your dad will stay with you just as long as you keep his memory alive in your mind and in your heart. He will always be your father and you will always be his son. Take comfort in knowing that, in a very real sense, your dad is very much here with you now, wherever you are. His spirit and his memory live on in you because you are so very much a part of him. When you really think about it, in many ways you are more inseparable now than you were before, because you are not limited by space and time and distance.

Appreciate all the time you have with your loved ones now because tommorrow is not promised.

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