Dealing with loss of a loved one can be difficult, but what about the friends, family members, and co-workers who are trying to offer help and support? The stress that can come from helping someone through the grief process can be overwhelming at times and often we just don’t know what to say or do to help.
Lori Pederson is the creator of www.IdidNotKnowWhattoSay.com (I did not know what to say) and specializes in helping those who are supporting someone else through the loss of a loved one and through the grieving process.
Lori was generous enough to take the time to answer a few questions to help us learn how to deal with loss from the perspective of the caring and concerned friend, family member, or co-worker to help relieve some of the stress that comes with helping those who are experiencing great loss.
Know your limits. If you start feeling overwhelmed with assisting your friend with the heavy emotions that can come with grief, try to assist them in finding a grief support group. You may want to offer to attend a grief support group with them to give them emotional support.
I remember when my aunt passed away, my uncle would go through periods of deep sobbing. It was so difficult to watch, not only because I was dealing with my own feelings of loss but I felt helpless and unable to “fix” his pain. After watching him go through his deep emotional pain, I found that it was so important for him to go through the deep feelings to get to the other side of his grief.
Remember that you do not have to “fix” the person and that it is ok to allow them to go through the necessary stages of grief. Knowing that there will be a light at the end of the tunnel helps ease some of the stress.
Take a time out. Dealing with someone in grief 24-7 can be very stressful. Know that it is ok to take time for you.
Try to incorporate fun and exercise into your day. It is ok to try to incorporate fun into your life and the life of those grieving. Find ways that bring joy back into your friend’s life. What do they enjoy doing? What is a great adventure you can take them on? Exercise is also a wonderful way to relieve stress. Take them for a walk; get them out of the house. This will help both of you.
In 1993 I lost my mother to ovarian cancer, two weeks later my aunt was killed in a car accident and one of my mentors also passed away from ovarian cancer. I was trying very hard to keep myself together. I had just returned to work and during a meeting a colleague of mine was acting inappropriately. After the meeting I found myself extremely angry and I started yelling at her and could not stop (not my finest moment). What happened next was truly a gift. Instead of becoming angry and taking it personally or even yelling back at me, she just came up to me and gave me a hug. To this day I am extremely grateful that my friend chose to show support and compassion instead of greeting me with more anger.
Understanding, thoughtfulness and support are wonderful gifts you can give your loved one when they have lost a pet.
We have also found some wonderful Pet Sympathy gifts and have listed them on our site at: www.IdidNotKnowWhattoSay.com/gifts.html
My expertise comes from those experiences that only life can provide. Over the past twenty years, I have lost many family members, including my mother to ovarian cancer, as well as many friends, colleagues and pets.
Throughout my life I have been blessed with many friends and relatives that were there for me as I experienced these great losses. I understand that although people want to help, they often don't know where to start. I Did Not Know What To Say.com was created out of my desire to assist people find the words when they don't know what to say or do.