Everyone wants to be helpful when a family member or friend loses a loved one. Yet, many people seem to always say or do the wrong thing during someone’s grieving process. Thinking about common mistakes that many people make may help you stop making them the next time you are dealing with someone who is grieving. Realize, however, that even if you make a blunder, your friend or family member will probably see your heart forgiving you very quickly.
10 Common Mistakes That You May Make When a Friend is Grieving
There are common mistakes that many people make when people are grieving. Consider this list to make sure that you are not guilty of doing any of them.
Mistake 1: Not Being There
Many people stay away from people who are grieving because they become uncomfortable. More than anything else that you can do for a person who is grieving is to be there for them. Often you will feel vulnerable sitting in a room with your friend realizing that there is nothing that you can do to make the situation better. Even if they are not able to express it right now, your friend will appreciate that you are there.
Mistake 2: Expect the Person to be Logical
Many people going through the grieving process become illogical. In the middle of coping with the many different emotions that come with grief, they are simply unable to think logically. Trying to point out illogical thinking to the person will only shut down lines of communication. Instead, consider that the time will come when the person realizes that they are being illogical on their own.
Mistake 3: Saying that You Know How they are Feeling
Each person’s grieving process is very personal. While there are common steps that most people go through, understand that each person goes through a highly individualized grieving process. Even if you have gone through a similar process, you do not have their exact personality. Some people will stay on one step for a long time while others may totally miss a step. One of the best approaches is to repeat back to the person what you hear them saying because that way they know that you care enough to truly listen.
Mistake 4: Offering to be There without Meaning It
Often times, people tell a person who is grieving to just call them if they need anything. The person who is grieving may not even know what they need right then. Instead, offer specific services and set up a time that you will do those things. For example, if a person is going through the grieving process, offer to keep their kids so that they can get their hair done or have some time to themselves. Take stock of your own personal skills and see where they can be used to help the grieving person.
Mistake 5: Forcing Your Beliefs on Someone
Even if you have very strong personal religious beliefs, make sure that you do not force your own beliefs on another. One of the most common ways to do this is saying that the person is in a better place now. You honestly do not know where the person goes after they die. Even if you do think you know, you should not force those feelings on a grieving loved one because it may interfere with their personal belief system. While you may want to have these conversations at some point, leave them for a long time after the person has worked through the grieving process.
Mistake 6: Expect the Grieving Process to Last a Given Time
Just like everyone goes through a highly personalized grieving process, the time that a person needs to grieve is also highly individualized. Often, a person may seem to be doing great when something sparks a memory, and they return to the grieving process. Be there without putting your own believes on the other person so that you are not conveying any negative feelings about the situation.
Mistake 7: Telling the Other Person How Strong You Think They Are
While the person going through the grieving process may appear incredibly strong at times, recognize this trait from afar. Praising them for it may prevent them from feeling vulnerable around you. The feeling of vulnerability is often an important step in working through the grieving process.
Mistake 8: Not Helping the Person Find a Way to Memorialize Their Loved One
While the funeral service is a memorial service, many people who are grieving find that they need to do something later to memorialize that person in a special way. Sometimes, they need to plant a tree, write a letter or read a religious text. Make sure that they realize that you are willing to help them with this project. If they indicate that they would like that, make it a priority in your own life.
Mistake 9: Disappear
In many friends and family groups, everyone shows up at the time of a death and disappear just as quickly. Do not be guilty of doing this. Instead, let your friend know that you will be there for them by calling, emailing or texting them on a regular basis.
Mistake 10: Ignore the Need for Professional Help
Over time, most people find that they return to old routines or find new routines that work for them. Some people, however, do not seem to be able to cope with the loss of a dear one. Do not ignore these signs if you become concerned. Instead, help them seek professional help if the need arises. Free and sliding costs services are available in almost every community.
Many people make common mistakes when they are dealing with a person who is going through the grieving process. The easiest way that you can avoid these common mistakes is to make sure that you are there in specific ways to help the person through the grieving process. Do not expect the person to be logical. Realize that no two people go through the same grieving process. Give the person the support that they need to go through their own process in their own time.