Do you speak grief?

Yes, its another title that makes you go HUH? At the top of my mind theses days is the number of friends and family going through hard times of grief. Loss of any form is hard, and as we talked about before, change can be very difficult for people to adapt to. But what do you do when your entire life seems to have been ripped apart through the death of a loved one or the devistating impact of a hard medical diagnosis?

Grief settles in as that unwelcome friend that came for a moment but refuses to leave.

Grief is that silent traveling companion that pops out at that moment when you spot something that triggers a memory, or smell something that is familiar and associated with your loved one that has passed. In our lifetime we will walk through the stages of grief ourself, and certainly with others. But how can you speak grief – how can you help someone who is deeply wrestling with loss? Here is a short list from my life lessons:

  • Learn about and try to understand the grieving process. We all go through a sadness, depression, anger, disbelief, and hopefully find a way of making peace in accepting the loss.
  • Listen more than you talk. Its funny but as a kid my dad told me that you have 2 ears and 1 mouth for a purpose… and listening is always the better thing to do. Pay attention to what they say, note their feelings and thoughts, and permit them to express themselves. When words are needed, encourage them, express compassion.
  • Check in on them– whether by phone, social media, or a note. If they like coffee grab them and go it in a coffee shop. Often the grief paralyzes the one grieving from reaching out.
  • Be willing to sit in silence – or as i say, don’t be Job’s friends. If you remember the book of Job from the bible, Job was grieving the loss of almost everything and his friends one by one accused him of causing the events he was grieving. Honestly that is not helpful. but sitting there, being present without the need to talk is so difficult, but will be more life giving and therapeutic to your grieving friend.
  • Remember dates – the anniversary of a death triggers emotions, and reaching out to check in, or let your friend know they re in your thoughts makes a difference. Birthdays are good to remember too
  • Offer practical help – like cleaning the house, cooking a meal, help with errands may ease the burden. Perhaps help with paperwork, bill coordination, or child care. Grief can sap all the energy from daily life, including the little things. If your friend is in that spot your help might encourage them.

My list is by no means a be all end all list – and i am certain there are aspects of grief that you may think of to address. The most important thing is being aware of and caring for those of us who are struggling with grief. We need each other, and we need to know that in these times we have each other to fall back on.