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How To Help Someone Who Is Grieving

August 17, 2017

Losing a loved one is one of the most devastating things that can happen in a person’s life. No matter you age, it’s a loss that disrupts one’s whole way of life. When this happens to someone close to you, your initial reaction is that you want to help them, but knowing how to help them is a difficult thing to figure out. Different people grieve in different ways. You might draw from you own experience of losing a loved one and think of what would have helped you through that time, but while it’s a good approach, it doesn’t mean that is the kind of support this person needs.

For anyone wondering about how to deal with such a situation, an extremely eye-opening book called Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy is highly recommended. The book is written by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, after the sudden death of her husband at the age of 47. While Sandberg discusses her own grieving process in detail, the book is also meant to shine a light on those who are around to support the bereaved and how they can help. Sandberg admits it wasn’t until this difficult moment that she realised how to actually help someone who was grieving.

One of the most insightful observations Sandberg gives in her book relates to how people offer their help. Think about how you offer to help someone in this situation. You offer your condolences and let them know if there’s anything that they need just let you know. I know I’ve done this and it never before occurred to me that this isn’t the best way to offer support. While your sincere offer to help is certainly not a bad thing, Sandberg points out that you are putting the onus on them to seek out help. Regardless of whether or not they need the help, it can be difficult to ask someone for it. They might feel they are being a bother or are self-conscious about asking for specific help. Instead, make you support obligatory. Don’t ask them if they want food brought over, ask them what food they want. Visit them at their house without them asking. Take on funeral preparation responsibilities instead of asking if they want help with it. Yes, sometimes they truly won’t want the help or the company, but if you listen to them they will let you know that.

Again, this is such a simple way to help out that many of us may not have considered. There is no way to make a situation like this good, but you can at least help them to deal with it in an easier way.

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