In our hearts, we all know that death is a part of life. But when a death takes place, you may experience a wide range of emotions, even when the death is expected. Many people report feeling an initial stage of numbness after first learning of a death, but there is no real order to the grieving process. They may experience confusion, shock, sadness, and even guilt.
Don’t let fears about saying or doing the wrong things keep you from reaching out to someone who has experienced loss. Here are 10 things you can say to someone who is grieving.
Try not to judge those who are grieving because people handle loss in different ways. It doesn’t mean they didn’t love the person who has died. Death, divorce and the loss of a home are all major events that people grieve. While everyone’s experience of grief is different, there are common responses that can be useful to recognize if you’re facing a loss.
Oftentimes we say: “Let me know if you need anything” or “how can I help.” Sometimes the bereaved person just can’t think to ask or isn’t comfortable asking. There are some more practical and pointed ways you can assist like walking a dog, saying you’re heading to the grocery store and asking for a list.
Look out for signs of depression. For some people, feelings of loss are debilitating and don’t improve even after time passes. This is known as complicated grief, sometimes called persistent complex bereavement disorder. In complicated grief, painful emotions are so long lasting and severe that you have trouble recovering from the loss and resuming your own life. Look for these warning signs to know when to seek medical help.