When we encounter people who have recently lost a loved one, it can be a struggle to find the right words to convey our sympathies and often friends and even family fall back on the conventional, “I’m sorry for your loss” condolence.
But grief is so much more than the loss of a partner, dear friend or beloved family member; it can turn your whole world upside down and can come in unpredictable waves of emotion. That’s why a recent Psychology Today: Grief article stresses the importance of making room for mourners to respond to grief in their own way and of offering more genuine responses to death.
When faced with mortality, it’s natural for friends or other loved ones to unintentionally distance themselves from grief, a human experience we will all one day have to endure. But by being aware of this tendency, people can respond to a loss with a phrase like, “nothing will ever be the same”, or “my heart hurts for you”, which may help those mourning a death and allow them to move forward through grief more authentically as it ebbs and flows.
Anyone who has experienced the loss of a spouse or another deep love understands that the grief they experience is not just a loss of a person, but of a certain future which now must be rebuilt on what may feel like very unsteady ground. Each day is a reminder of the love that is gone and yet life goes on and those left behind must move through the pain and find new joys and loves.
When friends and family understand grief better and offer their support in ways that go deeper than a predictable gesture of condolence, the way can be made just a little easier for mourners to own their experience and carry on even when it’s messy and grief attacks may strike. In time, the death of a loved one is woven into the life of the bereaved as they continue on a new path.
Learn more about coping with grief and loss by following this link to a recent Help Guide article on healthy ways to deal with the grieving process.