New Church Life March/April 2017 - Page 62

new church life: march/april 2017 They will eventually start to resume the activities of their “normal” life, like shopping, cleaning, going to work and socializing – but that doesn’t mean that their grief has been resolved or that they are over it. So what are some of the things that we can do to help somebody after the death of a loved one? One of the first things we can do is not assume we know how they feel or try to discount the grief they are experiencing. Here are six helping strategies that I learned in a class on Grief and Loss that we can use to help those who have lost a loved one. 1. Give permission to grieve Tell the person that you are sorry about their loss. Or let them know that they have a right to be in pain. It may be of a comfort to know that they are not insane but that what they are experiencing is quite normal. I was struck by a story of a minister who came to someone’s house after they lost a loved one and instead of saying the normal, “He’s in a better place and in better hands,” he said, “It hurts like hell, doesn’t it?” This was exactly what the man was thinking and feeling. He wasn’t feeling that it was for the best that he had lost his son or that everything was fine. It wasn’t. 2. Avoid the Conspiracy of Silence We have a tendency not to want to bring up discussion about the deceased because it may cause pain. But we need to know that the person who has lost a loved one most likely wants to talk about it with someone – maybe even needs to talk about it. We go to the person’s house and neither of us brings it up because we don’t know if the other person can handle it so it becomes this huge barrier. You may just say, “I am sorry about your husband. Do you want to talk about this?” It is important to invite them to talk about it, never force them. With children we need to remember that they grieve also. Just because they may not manifest it the same way that we do doesn’t mean that they aren’t sad. Talk with them about it. They may need to ask a lot of questions over a long period of time because they can only understand so much at one time about such an event. And don’t tell them something that isn’t true, such as, “Mommy went on a long trip,” or “Grandma is sleeping for a long time.” These two things are both reversible and so they may expect them to return. Or they may be afraid to go to sleep for fear they will sleep so long or be taken away. 3. Recognize Anniversary Dates On occasions like the anniversary of someone’s death or around festive times like Christmas try to be especially supportive. At these times especially strong emotions may bubble back to the surface. Organizing a get-together of friends can be useful. Inactivity is not useful to someone who is grieving. Try to phone, send a card, or visit someone at these times, or make sure they have people around. 128