Helping Someone With Grief
We’ve all heard about the five stages of grief, but once we lose someone we love, it’s tough to understand just what to do when those stages affect us individually. Also, if someone else in your life is dealing with a loss, you’ll want to know just what to expect as they go through the grieving process.
What can you do to help yourself, or someone you know, cope with the five stages of grief?
The loss of a loved one affects many of us differently, from an unexpected loss to a death after a prolonged illness. Everyone is different, and everyone copes differently, but there are some things we can do to help them cope.
The 5 Stages of Grief: Helping Others
Our grief is just a natural response to any loss in our life, but especially the death of a loved one. There’s a void in their life, and grief helps them try to figure out how to fill that void.
Stage 1: Denial
Refusing to believe something happened is quite common, and it’s a mental mechanism that actually helps us survive the loss. At this point, nothing makes sense and we become numb to the world. Our minds try to protect us by only letting in so many feelings at once. Being there for someone, allowing them to work through their disbelief, is one way to help them. Don’t try to get them to make any decisions, just be there and let them slowly process it all.
Stage 2: Anger
Once we’ve wrapped our heads around what has happened, we get angry. It’s not fair that this has happened to your friend, it’s not fair that it happened to you – it’s just not fair. The anger will be directed everywhere, including at God, at doctors, at friends and even at the person that died. There might even be some irrational anger pointed at someone that’s not even involved over something that happened at the funeral. Unfortunately, anger can be good, as long as it’s mostly shared in private, so try to help someone that’s blowing up in anger by directing them into another room.
Stage 3: Bargaining
This is where a lot of “What if” questions arise, as those dealing with a loss wonder what we could have done differently, or how we/someone could have prevented this tragedy. This is our attempt to negotiate our way out of the pain, and try to trade one type of pain for another. Just listening to someone go through these questions is a way to help them, as they eventually come to the realization that these questions are irrational in nature.
Stage 4: Depression
Your biggest task will be helping your grieving friend get through this stage of grief. Help them in any way they need, which could mean being there just to listen to them talk, being there to just keep them from being too lonely, or just helping them by giving them some space. People deal with depression differently, but know that one sure way to help someone through this is to have them move physically. Try to get them to take a walk with you while they talk. The physical exertion will help both their minds and their bodies.
Stage 5: Acceptance
While it’s true that most people will never be fine with the fact that they lost their loved one, they can eventually come to grips with it, and move on with their lives. Acceptance means they’re learning to live their new lives without their loved one, which could mean reorganizing their lives. Sometimes, that makes someone feel like they’re betraying the memory of a loved one, but that’s why you’re there to help them understand that it’s not a bad thing. Helping them meet new people and experience new things is a great way to help someone through that final stage.
Helping someone cope with the five stages of grief means you’ll be there for them. Imagine your friend has been injured and you are helping them get from one place to another, whether that means you are carrying them, letting them lean on you, or just talking with them while they walk, you are there for them.