A show of support
It’s been a difficult time for us all – we’re all coping with the impact of the pandemic and the long-term effects it will have.
The practicalities of organising a funeral with restrictions in place, combined with the emotional impact of a bereavement, has meant it has been even more challenging for those who have lost loved ones.
In Dying Matters Awareness Week (Monday 10th May to Sunday 16th May 2021) we’re encouraging people to talk about end-of-life and break down the taboos surrounding death.
It can be awkward to know what to say to someone who’s grieving so here’s some advice from our Funeral Director Anna Robinson on how you can support someone who has been bereaved…
• Don’t let fear hold you back
Fear of being intrusive or saying the wrong thing is obviously a big worry. In my experience, people generally appreciate that you’re thinking of them. Don’t be afraid of saying the person’s name or using words like ‘died’ either. They’d rather you said something rather than nothing – it’s better to acknowledge loss rather than ignore it.
• Make it about them
It’s hard to know what to say, but open questions can help such as ‘What’s on your mind today?’ or ‘What are you doing today?’.
Letting them know that you’re happy to listen whatever they want to talk about is a comfort, whether it’s memories of their loved one or what happened in the days leading up to their death.
Try to avoid going into your feelings of grief or saying you know how they feel. It might seem flippant and make it feel like you are minimising the loss.
• Be practical
Offer to help and give examples so you’re not asking them to think about what you could do. Suggest specific tasks like doing their shopping, cutting the lawn, picking up the kids from school or cooking a few meals for the freezer.
Don’t feel upset if your offers of support are rejected at first. Keep reminding them you are there so they know they can come back to you if they need to.
• Keep invitations open
Keep on checking in with them in the weeks and months after the funeral – these can be some of the most difficult and loneliest times.
Don’t assume they don’t want to be bothered with ‘normal’ things because of their grief. Invite them to join in social activities. They might not want to join you yet, but they’ll be grateful that you asked.