Ways to Support Loved Ones During the Grieving Process

With longevity comes many challenges. Two of the most detrimental to our well-being are grief and loneliness that can contribute to further declines in health and quality of life. Helping a loved one in grief will benefit them in many ways.

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Ways to Support Loved Ones During the Grieving Process
3 Min Read September 19th, 2022

When a loved one passes away, you can repeatedly experience sadness over that loss – often years later. Grief may resurface on the anniversary of your loved one's passing or on other significant occasions throughout the year.

Watching a loved one grieve is an overwhelming, helpless feeling. It is one of the most challenging tasks that many of us encounter. The ability to cope with the death of a close friend or family member is never easy and varies between people and the support group around them. 

There are several ways to support your loved ones during the grieving process.

Rebecca Ready, Ph.D., ABPP, is a professor in psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She writes in Psychology Today that death is the ultimate negative event. She says it is dreaded and conjures feelings of fear, distress, helplessness, hopelessness, and sadness. 

While death is an inevitable part of life, and with death comes grief. Grief swallows the mourner up in a vast pit of despair, leaving a hollow, desperate ache behind. Watching a loved one grieve is an overwhelming, helpless feeling, even if you have also experienced loss. A shared experience doesn't equip you to help them through their grief, which is why we've prepared this list of ways to support loved ones during the grieving process.

British writer and theologian C.S. Lewis once said:

No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.

Grief and fear, and even despair is inter-connected. Grief is a normal and natural reaction to a loss of any kind, especially the death of a loved one. Grief can affect how we interact with others, whether with friends, family, or work.

Reach Out

Don't simply offer them platitudes of well wishes or say, "if you need anything." Find your own way to express your love for them. Whether baking them a casserole or hugging them, don't wait for them to ask for your help. Just do the kind thing.

Also, take time to engage with them. Many grieving people feel alienated from their loved ones and the world. Death is an uncomfortable subject, causing many people to avoid mourners. While this is not intentionally malicious, it can be incredibly harmful to those lost in their grief. Interact with your loved one as normally as possible.

A person grieving might benefit much from even little actions when you reach out. Simple things such as sending a card or flowers, bringing them a meal, doing their laundry or shopping for them, or simply setting up a regular meeting to listen and offer support can be beneficial.

Listen Correctly

If they choose to open up to you, listen. Don't try to put a positive spin on things or say it could be worse. And no matter how well-intentioned, don't try to compare your loss to theirs.

What you should do is listen. Look at the person in their eyes; even if they look away, keep your eyes in place so they find them when they return to you. Use silence. Allow them to pause with your interruption. They will continue, and you should listen.

Allow them to be sad. Allow them to be angry. Acknowledge how bad the situation is, and sit with them in that place, even though it may be uncomfortable for you. Sometimes the best thing you can say is nothing at all.

Follow Up

People who experience loss often describe overwhelming support immediately after the loss, then less and less support as time goes on. Friends return to their regular lives and leave the mourners to pick up the pieces alone. Don't be that person.

Grief is a long and challenging process. Your loved one will still need support months and even years later. Think of it like a spiral staircase: though the grieving person is progressing, it may feel that they are moving in circles.

As an outsider to their grief, you can remind them exactly how much progress they have made. Encourage them to give themselves time and space to heal. And keep in mind: anniversaries are tough.

Don’t ‘Fix’ Someone in Grief

Remember that grief is not a problem to be fixed.  Your compassionate presence and support are all your bereaved friend needs. Don't attempt to change their emotions, they can start to see themselves as the issue, making them less comfortable confiding in you and speaking honestly about their emotions. Keep in mind that only time, support, and compassion can heal grief.

We hope this list of ways to support your loved ones during the grieving process gave you some insight. Mourning is a complex process, but the support of a friend is invaluable.

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About the Author

Mallory Knee is a freelance writer for multiple online publications where she can showcase her affinity for all things beauty and fashion. She particularly enjoys writing for communities of passionate women who come together for a shared interest and empower one another in the process. In her free time, you can find Mallory trying a fun new dinner recipe, practicing calligraphy, or hanging out with her family.

LTC News Contributor Mallory Knee

Mallory Knee

Contributor since September 25th, 2020

Editor's Note

Growing older indicates that we have lived, experienced, and gained insight into life. The process of aging can bring many challenges which will affect our families and finances.

Our health will decline as we get older. Our bodies change, and mobility will become an issue. Some people will have failing memories, and dementia will require supervision.

All of this requires money - quality care is not cheap. Preparing for the consequences of aging will reduce the stress and anxiety often placed on your family.

Health insurance and Medicare are not solutions for long-term health care. Medicaid is only an answer if you have little or no income and assets.

The solution for many families is affordable Long-Term Care Insurance. A policy will provide you with guarantees that give you and your family peace of mind. An LTC policy gives you guaranteed tax-free resources to pay for your choice of quality care in any setting, including in-home care.

Consider LTC Insurance as 401(k) insurance, but it is much more than that. Long-Term Care Insurance shields your loved ones and finances against the expenses and hassles of aging and failing health so they can remain family and not become caregivers.

When to Obtain LTC Coverage

Long-Term Care Insurance is medically underwritten, and each company has its own underwriting criteria. Generally, you will have better health when you are younger. Most people obtain coverage in their 50s. 

An LTC Insurance specialist will work with all the top companies and understands underwriting, policy design, and claims - Work With a Specialist.

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There are a variety of tools and resources that LTC NEWS offers that can help you in your research:

  • The Ultimate Long-Term Care Insurance Guide - If you like details, you will enjoy this comprehensive guide to LTC Insurance. 

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  • Cost of Care Calculator - Choose Your State - You can find the current and future cost of long-term health care services where you live.

  • Frequently Asked Questions - Get the answers to the most often asked questions about long-term health care planning and LTC Insurance.

  • Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim - Does a loved one - like your Mom or Dad - have a Long-Term Care Insurance policy and need to file a claim to get benefits? LTC NEWS will help. If they don't have a policy, but you need help in getting a plan of care and finding caregivers, LTC NEWS can also assist.

  • Reverse Mortgages - Learn about reverse mortgages and ask questions about how they work and if you or a loved one would benefit from one.

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