A grieving family member can create heavy energy in your home, but if your loved ones are struggling, you may be able to support them (even if you’re hurting, too). Just remember to take care of yourself – you can’t help others if you’re not looking after your own emotional and physical wellbeing.
Below, you’ll find a few pointers that could help you to make things better for your grieving family.
1. Allow Them To Grieve In Their Own Way
Everybody grieves differently. One family member may cry every day, and another may seem unbothered. You have to make space for everybody to grieve in the way they are comfortable with.
2. Look Into Counseling
Counseling may be a good option for your family. You can’t be your family’s therapist. Counseling can help everybody to see that their emotions are normal and teach them to work through their feelings. If they don’t work through their emotions or feel shame around them, then it can be very difficult to move on from a situation.
3. Find A Way To Honor The One You’ve Lost
Find various ways to honor the one you’ve lost. You can look at sites like Memorials.com and find urns for ashes, or you could even do something in your garden so there’s a place you can go to remember your loved one.
4. Don’t Minimize Feelings and Emotions
The last thing you want to do is minimize the feelings and emotions of your family, even if they seem silly to you. Telling someone they are being dramatic or “too much” is very invalidating and not helpful. It is particularly important to deal with grieving children in the right way. Let them attend the funeral if they want to but don’t force them – you shouldn’t force them to grieve publically.
Try not to give children confusing messages like telling them the deceased person is ‘sleeping’, and allow them to cry if they need to. Don’t worry about them upsetting anybody else. Help them keep a routine if possible, and don’t try to shield them from the loss.
Don’t hide your tears, either – you’ll show them that it’s ok to express their emotions. If you hide your tears, they will think that showing how you feel is not ok even if you’re very sad. You don’t want them to pick this up from a young age!
However old the person grieving in your family is, make sure you don’t use invalidating or unhelpful statements to try to make them feel better. For example:
- It’s time to move on
- Everything happens for a reason
- They’re in a better place
- ‘You should’ statements
- ‘You will’ statements
Avoid these phrases as they diminish feelings rather than allowing your loved ones to feel and express openly.
5. Offer Practical Assistance
One simple way to support your grieving family is to offer practical assistance (if and when you feel you can). You could do the shopping for family members, doing simple chores around the house, or even offer to go for a walk with them. Share an enjoyable activity if you can to try to take their mind off things. Being there for them can make all the difference.
6. Watch For Warning Signs of More Serious Mental Health Issues
Make sure you look out for warning signs of more serious mental health issues. While there is no timeline for grief, knowing the signs of depression and other issues is key. Have open conversations with your family members and allow them to take the space they need. Remember that everyone has a different grief process and the key to growing stronger after loss is to come together in love and support.
For more on helping a child deal with grief, click here.
Featured Image Credit: Polina Zimmerman