If you are close or not with someone who has experienced loss, it can be tricky to know what to do or say. “Should I ask her how she’s feeling?”, “Is it appropriate to try and cheer her up or get her to laugh?”
Knowing the exact correct thing to say or do is difficult, and it is very dependent on the person who is grieving. Overwhelmingly though, it is not the best idea to try to “cheer up” a person in active grief. Some needs that a grieving person need are:
- understanding and
- loving them like Jesus loves us
Many times, the bereaved needs to feel all of those negative emotions and process their feelings. If you are a church leader looking for a grief and loss group curriculum, or a friend in need of some guidance on how to make your bereaved friend feel more supported, below you will find a guide to help.
How Soon After Will They Be The Same, Cheery Person Again?
Putting a timeline on feelings isn’t really possible. It depends on the person, how close they were to the lost loved one, how traumatic/unexpected the death was, and so on.
The best way you can maintain your friendship with the bereaved is to be understanding of their struggle with processing their emotions. If they cancel a lunch date with you because they just can’t deal with some emotions death brings up, be flexible. Allow them to not be okay. Let them know you’re there for them when they are ready. Your friend will greatly appreciate the empathy and loyalty.
Holidays and special occasions, like their lost loved one’s birthday, can make it seem like your friend has regressed on their grieving journey. This is called holiday grief, and it’s important to be patient and understanding again through these times. The first holiday or birthday without their loved one can trigger numerous painful emotions that even they may have thought they had sorted through. This isn’t a regression, but rather a natural part of the grieving journey.
Tips For Helping Loved Ones Return To Normalcy After A Death
When your friend or loved one is ready, they might really appreciate you inviting them to get a coffee and chat, or to go to a show. Grieving people can’t just stay home in their loungewear for months on end. It’s unhealthy and will prolong their grief journey, never allowing them to fully move on.
If a holiday or birthday is coming up that you think might trigger negative emotions on your bereaved loved one, maybe offer to spend time with them that day, so they’re not alone with their thoughts and grief. These are just a couple things that can really make a difference in someone’s grief journey for the better.
If you are a church member or leader looking for a grief and loss group curriculum or more information related to holiday grief, take a look at our catalog of courses and learning materials today.