We at Treasured Memories ® understand how difficult it may be to watch a loved one grieve. This is especially true during the holidays. . . We are not experts on grief. We do not offer grief counseling, and we do not ever recommend taking our advice over your psychologists’ or psychiatrists’. But with a bit of research, we aim to help you in your quest to help the bereaved.
Letting Go of Expectations
One major step in helping someone you love through their grieving process is to understand that the grieving process is different for everyone. Thomas Attig explores this idea thoroughly in his book, ‘The Heart of Grief: Death and the Search for Lasting Love’, and we highly recommend it as a tool. In it, he emphasizes, “We must recognize that each of us is affected differently by the death and that we can work to understand, tolerate, and respect differences.”
This can be compared to the way Attig says, “we can appreciate how we find different values and meanings in music, readings, traditional practices, symbols, gestures, and participation.” It is in this same way, “We can understand that we vary greatly in how we carry and express our hurt, give and accept support and comfort, remember and pay tribute, find peace and consolation, and understand and hold the legacies of those who have died.” And most importantly, do not hold others to your expectation of how they should grieve.
Be honest & Reliable
It is always tempting to say whatever you can think of to comfort your grieving friend. Megan Devine, author of ‘Everything is Not Okay: an audio program for grief’, a licensed clinical counselor, and a grief advocate recommends the exact opposite, “You cannot know that your friend’s loved one ‘finished their work here,’ or that they are in a ‘better place.’ These future-based, omniscient, generalized platitudes aren’t helpful. “Stick with the truth: this hurts. I love you. I’m here.”
And actually be there. Help your friend complete anything from daily tasks of mortuary visits or reviewing memorial options, and packing up rooms or houses. If you ever feel overwhelmed be honest you’re your friend in grief and yourself. Take some time to rebuild your own strength so you can be there for them when they need you most. Togetherness is one of the most powerful and important remedies of grief.
Offer the Bereaved Ways to Memorialize
Funerals and memorial services work to give support and closure to the bereaved. This may be something more personal, where your friend or loved one will want to make the decisions. But, we can also memorialize in other ways.
Death ceremonies that can be shared include: planting trees, writing letters, having remembrance gatherings, spreading ashes, and/or presentation of cremation and memorial jewelry. Many gifts can feel impersonal. Give your friend an engravable, personalized gift so it may serve as a true memorial piece and be treasured forever.
Love and Be Loved
It is because of this, we at Treasured Memories ® above all else recommend showing your love in learning to help your grieving friend. You aren’t perfect and cannot always get it right, but your presence and love are often all you need to help fill the void in your friend’s life.
Good luck to you and yours from all of us, here at Treasured Memories®.
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