Grief is a common reaction among humans. People often grieve when they experience drastic changes in their relationships, lose their jobs, or undergo major life changes, such as moving to a new place or retirement. But, the death of a loved one is the most common reason why people grieve.
Although normal, grieving for long periods can eventually take a toll on a person’s health. Complicated grief can become the reason why a person will have a hard time carrying out normal activities, isolate themselves from other people, as well as experience depression and other mental health problems. All these things answer the common question, “Can grief make you sick?”
Complicated grief can be dangerous, which is why you should always help people manage this emotion through the following ways:
- Understand The Grieving Process
You won’t be able to offer help to a grieving person if you don’t have any idea what they’re going through. How can you easily manage the situation if you’re clueless on what grief really is? How can you offer help to others if you don’t know what you’re going into?
One way to effectively help a grieving person is to take the time to understand the grieving process. This information will help you manage the situation and avoid aggravating their emotional burden.
You can understand the grieving process easier once you’re fully equipped with the following information:
- There are no rules on grieving: People grieve differently. While some grieve over the death of a family member for weeks, others require years to fully recover from the loss. When extending help to a grieving person, make sure that you understand this fact and never tell them what they ‘should’ feel.
- Grief is often associated with extreme behaviors and emotions: Contrary to popular belief, grief is not only about isolating one’s self and crying alone. Grief is actually a very diverse emotion that heightens feelings of anger, fear, guilt, and despair.
A grieving person can yell and lash out at their friends and family, and even obsess about death. If you notice that a grieving friend or family shows these emotions, always give the reassurance that whatever they feel is normal.
- Grief comes and goes: People who grieve usually have an unpredictable lifestyle. They might do well at work one day, and, then, sulk in their bedrooms for a week afterwards.
As you’re extending help to someone who’s grieving, it’s important to prepare yourself for an emotional rollercoaster ride. Grief can cause unstable and inconsistent emotions to a person, so be prepared to handle all of these.
- Know How To Communicate And Listen
As mentioned, a grieving person will usually go through different emotions. And, saying the wrong things can aggravate any negative emotions that they might have. Instead of helping a grieving friend or family member, you might push them to grieve even more.
Knowing what to say is another way to help a grieving loved one. Your words are very powerful and can significantly affect the outlook of a grieving person, which is why you should know how to properly communicate to them.
Listed below are some easy and great tips on how you can talk and also listen, to someone who is grieving:
- Acknowledge the situation: Because of the fear of judgement and rejection, a lot of grieving individuals will choose to bottle up their feelings instead of sharing them to other people. Make sure that this doesn’t happen to your grieving friend or family member by acknowledging their situation when you converse with them.
For example, if the person grieves because of the death of their loved one, you can start the conversation by saying, “I heard that your cousin died.” Using the word “died” in your conversations shows that you’re open to talking about how the other person feels.
- Let the grieving person talk about how their loved one died: It’s common for a grieving person to share stories about their deceased loved one over and again. People who grieve would even spend hours talking about this person in detail. When this happens, be patient because repeating a story is actually one way for a person to process and accept someone’s death. Every time a person retells the same story, the pain also lessens.
- Ask how that person feels: Regardless of how long you’ve known a person, grief can cause drastic changes in someone’s behavior and thinking. In worse cases, grief can even become the reason why a person will change to a completely new persona. When extending help to a grieving friend or family member, don’t forget to ask how they’re actually feeling. Don’t compare how you and this person grieve; instead, learn to listen to what the other person is saying.
- Provide Ongoing Support
Grief is a powerful emotion that can affect a person for weeks, months, or even years, so don’t expect to see results from your efforts overnight. If you truly want to help a person who’s grieving, you should be in it for the long haul, and not only days after the funeral.
It’s essential that you continue to stay in touch with the grieving person by regularly checking on them through calls or texts, or dropping by in their home. After the funeral, this person may be left all alone, and the initial shock of the loss will start to dawn on them. This is when a grieving person ultimately needs your presence and support.
As you provide ongoing support to a grieving friend or family member, see to it that you don’t make assumptions based on their physical appearance. Don’t assume that they’ve already moved on from the loss of their loved one just because you start to see them smile or mingle around with other people again.
Consistency Is Key
Your support can help a person grieve healthily and move on fast. As long as you’re consistent with your efforts in helping, it won’t be long before a grieving friend or family member will finally get their life back on track!