Our world today is so much different than just a few generations ago. The world is now a global neighborhood, because of that families don’t always live in the same community as much as they once did in the past. Our world today is also in a hurry, busy with activity. It is no wonder we now have difficulty in understanding grief when someone passes away today. Previous generations knew how because of the support system of families and close knit communities where they experienced grief together. We now have a culture that is really clueless on how to handle such experiences by themselves, much less how to help others with grief. Let me offer a few suggestions: 1. Being there is more important than what you say to those who have lost a family member or close friend. Don’t let the feelings of awkwardness and not knowing what to say keep you from reaching out to them. It is supposed to be awkward and we often times don’t know what to say, that is just part of it, go ahead and do some thing to express your love and concern for them. Go by and see them at the funeral visitation or take their family some food, or think of doing something for them that they don’t have time to do during this difficult time. If you are not able to visit them you can make a phone call, card, e-mail or text. Communicate your love and concern for them.
2. Avoid trite words such as “I know how you feel”, actually you don’t know how “they feel”, even if you have have had a similar experience that doesn’t mean that they feel exactly they way you did because they do not have exactly the same personality, family background, emotional make up as you..
3. Realize everyone grieves differently, respect that. Even in the same family, people will express it differently. Some grieve more in public some others more in private.
4. Keep in mind , grief is a process. It takes time. If the death was unexpected, the feelings of shock and disbelief will be there. If the death follows a long illness, the grieving process may have already begun during that time. If your friend was a primary caregiver during that time, there may be a sense of loss of identity because for months or maybe years their daily routine and priorities was spent taking care of their loved one and now that they are gone there can be a feeling of loneliness and “not knowing what to do” afterwards. That is why is important to stay in touch after the funeral. It is good to keep in mind that the first year afterwards can be difficult especially around birthdays, anniversaries and holidays.
Other helpful ideas can be found at the website: http://www.griefshare.org