As many of us know first-hand, grief is not a phase you can live through and then be done with it. We carry the people we love in our memories with us for the rest of our lives, so grief is always with us.
But, how do you move forward with all this love when you have lost someone close to you? Author Nora McInerny put it best in her TED talk: We don’t “move on” from grief. We move forward with it when she said:
“What can we do other than try to remind one another that some things can’t be fixed and not all wounds are meant to heal? We need each other to help remember that grief is this multi-tasking emotion. That you can and will be sad and happy. You’ll be grieving and able to love in the same year, or week, the same breath. We need to remember that a grieving person is going to laugh again and smile again. If they’re lucky, they’ll even find love again. But yes – absolutely – they’re going to move forward. But that doesn’t mean that they’ve moved on.”
Grief is the elephant in the room
If you’ve ever lost a loved one or supported someone who has, you’ll notice how grief is so uncomfortable, especially if it’s someone else's grief and you’re not sure how to help. Many of us have been in a situation where we are comforting a loved one who is grieving and we don’t know what to say, or how to be around them. Do you skirt around the topic of death and talk about mundane things? Will talking about the person who has died upset them? Or is it better to celebrate the life they lived and remember the person who they lost?
What to say to someone who is grieving.
Here are some ideas of what you can say to someone who is grieving, in order to comfort them:
- “I know how much you loved them”
- “I wish I had the right words for you”
- “I’m here to listen if you need me”
- “I’m so sorry”
Another tip is to not offer, but just do it. Show up with food, drop in and do laundry, and talk about the person who died, so they’re not forgotten.
Things NOT to say when someone is grieving:
Any mention of “moving on” or “time heals all wounds”
Telling someone that they will eventually “move on” devalues their grief and their relationship. And yes, while time will alleviate pain and allow for healing, we know that grief is not a wound that will ever completely heal.
“Please let me know if there’s anything I can do for you”
All the offers and people reaching out with messages can be overwhelming for someone who is already going through such a tumultuous time. It also puts the onus on the person grieving to reach out for help. Instead, you can say “I’ll come to do some laundry” or “let me come cook for you”, for example.
“I know how you feel”
At some point in life, we will all experience loss, but grief is so personal, so you’re never truly going to be able to know how someone experiences their loss. Saying that you do can feel quite invalidating and upsetting.
Saying nothing at all.
Many people feel too uncomfortable to reach out when someone is grieving but actually, not reaching out at all doesn’t benefit anyone. Your loved one will appreciate that text, call, email or visit - even if they don’t immediately respond.
The truth is that grief is usually mixed in with so many emotions, and there is no set formula for how to grieve or how long you will feel sad or angry or depressed. Navigating through your grief can be incredibly difficult. The grief you’re experiencing is yours. If you’re ready to move forward with your grief, it might help to enlist the help of a counsellor or therapist to talk through the multitude of emotions that grief brings to the surface. And remember to be patient and kind to yourself.
Arranging a cremation whilst also experiencing the first moments of grief can be particularly stressful and overwhelming. Whether you need to make arrangements for a loved one or would like to preplan for yourself, our team of dedicated and professional funeral planners can make the task easier, providing support every step of the way. For a free quote, call 1300 945 533.