The Loss of a loved one can be one of the most difficult times that a person will
have to endure. The sudden responsibility to having to react to the demands of
making funeral arrangements can be an overwhelming experience. One of the least
acknowledged, understood and addressed concerns in our society is that of grief and
it’s affects on our lives. Grief is a normal yet powerful response to loss as well as a
painful one. Being educated about grief can help you feel more in control in what will
be one of the most stressful times in your life. Most funeral homes offer grief
counseling to anyone who feels that they need assistance in learning how to deal with
loss. Be sure to ask the director of funeral home about all the counseling assistance
that they have available.
|How to Help Grieving People; What You Can Say, What You Can Do
Relatives, friends and neighbors are supportive at the time of a death, during the
wake and funeral. Food, flowers and physical presence are among the many
thoughtful expressions. After the funeral, however, many grieving people wonder
what happened to their friends.
They need their support and caring even more when the reality begins to hit and the
long process of grief begins. Their help is essential since immediate family members
have their hands full of grief and may find it difficult to give support to one another,
or may not live nearby. Your help and understanding can make a significant
difference in the healing of another's grief.
Unresolved grief can lead to physical or mental illness, suicide or premature death. A
grieving person needs friends willing to cry with them, sit with them, care, listen,
have creative ideas for coping, be honest, help them feel loved and needed, and
believe they will make it through their grief. Ways of helping grieving people are as
limitless as your imagination.
Read about the various phases of grief so you can understand and help the bereaved
All that is necessary is a hand squeeze, a kiss, a hug, your presence. If you want to
say something, say "I'm sorry" or "I care."
It is not necessary to ask questions about how the death happened. Let the bereaved
tell you as much as they want when they are ready. A helpful question might be,
"Would you like to talk about the death? I'll listen." Don't say, "I know just how you
The bereaved may ask "Why?" It is often a cry of pain rather than a question. It is
not necessary to answer, but if you do, you may reply, "I don't know why. Maybe
we'll never know (this side of heaven)."
Don't use platitudes like "Life is for living," or "It's God's will." Explanations rarely
console. It's better to say nothing.
Recognize the bereaved may be angry. They may be angry at God, the person who
died, the clergy, doctors, rescue teams, other family members, etc. Encourage them
to acknowledge their anger and to find ways of handling it.
It is good to cry. Crying is a release. People should not say, "Don't cry."
Be available to listen frequently. Most bereaved want to talk about the person who
has died. Encourage them to talk about the deceased. do not change the conversation
or avoid mentioning the person's name. Talking about the pain slowly lessens its
sting. Your concern and effort can make a big difference in helping someone recover
Be patient. Don't say, "You'll get over it in time." Mourning may take a long time.
They will never stop missing the person who has died, but time will soften the hurt.
The bereaved need you to stand by them for as long as possible. Encourage them to
be patient with themselves as there is no timetable for grieving.
Offer to help with practical matters such as errands, fixing food, caring for children.
Say, "I'm going to the store. Do you need bread, milk, etc.? " It is not helpful to say,
"Call me if there is anything I can do."
Accept whatever feelings are expressed. Do not say, "You shouldn't feel like that."
This attitude puts pressure on the bereaved to push down their feelings. Encourage
them to express their feelings, cry, hit a pillow, scream, etc.
Be aware the average person's self-esteem, on a scale of 100, is in the 70's. A
bereaved person's self-esteem may be in the teens or lower.
When someone feels guilty and is filled with "If only...", it merely adds to their
negative view of themselves to say "Don't feel guilty." They would handle it better if
they could. Listen with true concern. One response could be, "I don't think you're
guilty. You did the best you could at the time, but don't push down your feeling of
guilt. Look at these feelings and talk about guilt until you can let go."
Depression is often part of grief. It is a scary feeling. To be able to talk things over
with an understanding friend or loved one is one factor that may help a person not to
become severely depressed.
Give special attention to the children in the family. Do not tell them not to cry or not
to upset the adults. Do not shield the children from the grieving of others. It is
important to have them express their own feelings, as the adults in the family have
their hands full with their own grief.
Suggest the bereaved person keep a daily journal.
The bereaved may appear to be getting worse. This is often due to the reality of
death hitting them.
Physical reactions to the death (lack of appetite, sleeplessness, headaches, inability to
concentrate) affect a person's coping ability, energy and recovery.
Be aware of the use of drugs and alcohol. Often they only delay the grief response.
Medication should only be taken under the supervision of a physician.
Sometimes the pain of bereavement is so intense that thoughts of suicide occur.
Don't be shocked by this. Instead, try to be a truly confiding friend.
Don't say, "It has been four months (six months, a year, etc.). You must be over it
by now." Life will never be the same.
Encourage counseling if grief is getting out of hand.
Suggest grieving people take part in support groups such as Hope for Widowed,
Hope for Bereaved Parents, and Hope for Survivors, or Those whom Suicide Leaves
Behind. Sharing similar experiences helps. Offer to attend a support group meeting
with them. The meetings are not morbid. They offer understanding, friendship,
suggestions for coping and hope.
Suggest major decisions be can be postponed (moving, giving everything away, etc.)
Later they may regret hasty decisions. It is best to keep decision-making to a
Suggest exercise to help work off bottled- up tension and anger, to relax and to aid
sleep. Offer to join them in tennis, aerobic exercise classes, swimming, a walk, etc.
Encourage the bereaved to balance life (rest, reading, work, prayer and recreation).
Encourage good nutrition. If they have trouble sleeping, suggest avoiding cola,
coffee, tea or aspirin-based remedies containing caffeine.
Help the bereaved to not have unrealistic expectations as to how they "should" feel
and when they will be better. It is helpful, when appropriate, to say, "I don't know
how you do as well as you do."
Don't avoid the bereaved. It adds to their loss. As the widowed often say, "I not only
lost my spouse, but my friends as well."
Be aware that weekends, holidays and evenings may be more difficult.
Consider sending a note at the time of their loved one's birthday, anniversary of
death, special days.
Practice continuing acts of thoughtfulness—a note, visit, plant, helpful book on grief,
plate of cookies, phone call, invitation for lunch, dinner, coffee. Take the initiative in
calling the bereaved.
Copyright holder, Hope for Bereaved, 1342 Lancaster Ave., Syracuse, NY 13210.
|The Five Stages of Grieving
Grieving is believed to be a mental process that progresses through five distinct
stages. Though each phase, may not be experienced by all people, most people will
experience them to some degree. The stages are listed below;
|Depression and 8 inexpensive Ways to Help Treat or Feel Better
Here are some down to earth ways to seek help for depression.
Talk to a friend. Social isolation, real or perceived is a risk factor for depression.
This is particularly true as we age and lose many of the opportunities for socializing
that come with taking classes, going to work, or shuttling children to and from their
activities. A recent study of 378 adults showed that, especially for women, believing
that you have friends you can turn to may help prevent adult depression. So if you
feel depression creeping in, reaching out to a friend or close relative may provide help
for depression and stave off the blues.
Get moving. Start an exercise routine to get help for depression. Walking, lifting
weights, swimming, dancing — it’s up to you. There are a number of benefits to
getting out and getting moving if you feel depression coming on. A recent study of
202 adults with major depressive disorder compared the use of antidepressants with a
regular program of aerobic exercise and found that after four months, exercise is just
as effective as medication in treating depression. The key is a consistent, regular
exercise program. Even more benefits await you: You may lose weight, look better,
and improve your overall health.
Explore your faith. Among natural depression remedies, attending faith-based
events once a week or more is linked to a lower risk of depression symptoms in
adults, especially as we age. If you have not been involved in a faith community, this
may be a good time to find one that suits your beliefs. If you already belong to a
congregation, consider attending services more regularly. Faith participation has the
added benefit of helping to build your social network, which in turn will provide help
for depression. There is also some evidence that regular prayer helps with depression
Relax. Learning how to meditate and developing a regular meditation practice may
help you control stress and cut back on your risk of depression.
Compassion based meditation, which encourages you to meditate on the
challenges faced by others (rather than your own situation), could be particularly
beneficial. In other studies, simply learning how to progressively relax your muscles
has been shown to help.
Play with a pet. Having a pet around may be a way to ease depression symptoms.
When you’re down, try spending some quality time with your cat or dog. Pets offer
owners a number of benefits. They provide unconditional love, get you out and
about, and may increase opportunities for socializing.
Laugh. If you can find a funny movie, sitcom, or friend to stimulate some chuckles,
you could ease some of the depression symptoms that trouble you.
Sing. Joining a singing group may give you both a social outlet and an experience
with music that can lift your mood. If you don’t feel like singing with others, try just
singing your favorite tunes in the shower or in the car.
Don’t indulge in alcohol. Here’s a way to save some money on depression
treatment: Don’t buy illegal drugs or alcohol to self-treat depression. Many people
use these substances to ease their down moods, but this can actually make
depression worse, plus they are often expensive.
While these strategies may help you feel better and improve your mood, there are
times when depression is severe and requires clinical treatment. If you’ve tried these
strategies and still experience depression symptoms or if you simply cannot work up
the energy to try even one strategy, you should schedule a visit to your doctor for
Studies have shown that taking some positive action does more to alleviate
depression than doing nothing, even though nothing may be exactly what you want to
do right now. Why not pick a strategy and get started.
|Children’s Memorial Gifts for Grieving
Your gift will also depend on the age of a child. Even toddlers can understand the
changes and emotions experienced when someone dies, but they won't need the
same types of support that a teenager or adult might need. You have to cater your
gift specifically to the child and their situation, lest you appear insincere or even
You'll also have to consider your relationship to the child. If you're a parent or
guardian, you're going to have to help the child understand what's happening, and
you might use a memorial gift as a way to do so. If you're a distant relative or
acquaintance, you can safely offer a less consequential gift such as a toy or game.
These types of gifts will be appreciated as a comfort for children dealing with a very
Helping a child through the grieving process can be incredibly difficult. Here are
some ideas for the best memorial gifts for kids:
Journals, coloring books or scrapbooks. You can offer a child a chance to work
through their thoughts and feelings by letting them write or draw. Some kids won't
have the words to say what they mean, but will be able to express themselves with
pictures or artwork. A book that locks might be especially appropriate for older
children or teens so that they feel like they have some privacy.
Worry stones Sometimes a kid just needs something to fiddle with. They're
expected to be quiet and still throughout most of the funeral process, so a worry
stone will give them something to play with discreetly. You can even personalize the
stone so that it is more personal.
Toys or teddy bears Even when dealing with death, a kid needs to be a kid. Toys or
teddy bears remind them that it's okay to feel a variety of emotions. You can give
them a regular toy to be played with, or you can get one that makes a special
keepsake. Either way it'll be a memorial gift they can hold onto while they're working
through the funeral and grieving process.
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