When someone you love is hurting deeply, it is difficult to know what to do or say. It is heart-wrenching to see someone you care about grieve the loss of a loved one. A different type of sadness consumes them. It is especially hard if someone you are trying to console prefers keeping their emotions to themselves. In moments like these, you may feel a sense of sadness or hopelessness watching your loved one hurt.
Know that there are things you can do to help them get through the difficult time.
- Take things day by day. Recognize that waves of sadness will come and go. You might find that some days are better than others, and that is okay.
- Listen if they want to talk about their loss. Share memories you have of the person they are grieving. A funny story can bring a good laugh and can help relieve some of the sadness, even temporarily.
- Do not let the fear of saying the wrong thing stop you from talking. Remind your loved one that you are there to listen when they are ready to share how they feel.
- Measure how often you ask questions like “Are you okay?” or “How are you doing?” It can be overwhelming for someone coping with a loss and can add unintentional stress to their situation. Take some time to gauge how your loved one is doing to determine how best to check in with them.
- Find ways to help. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is identify simple ways you can be of service. For example, if they are speaking during the funeral or memorial service, offer to listen to their remarks before the service or help them get where they need to be on time. You could also offer to help with errands or make a meal if you think it would help.
- Be there to provide support and remind your loved ones that their feelings are valid. Remember that for some people the sadness stays with them, lingering in the back of their mind long after they have said their goodbyes.
There is no right way to grieve, no timetable for how long the sadness will linger, and no perfect way to provide support to someone who is struggling. The best thing we can do to help a grieving loved one is to be present. If the grief ever becomes overwhelming, consider seeking help from a counselor.
Your Employee Assistance Program is Here to Support
If you or a loved one are struggling and would like resources for counseling services, contact your Component Employee Assistance Program (EAP). EAP provides free, confidential counseling to help you cope with your feelings of loss and grief. EAP support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For more information or for help in contacting your EAP, write to your DHS Work-Life specialists at firstname.lastname@example.org.