Support for the bereaved

No matter how old we get, no matter how often it happens, losing a loved one through death is no easy experience to get over. However, if you are surrounded with family, friends or acquaintances who are sensitive to your needs, it can make a huge difference.

Here are a few things to remember when seeking to support a friend or family who has lost someone through death.

1. Give them space – Avoid calling during the first two days. You can opt for sending a message instead. This would allow the person to read the message and respond in their own time. When some time has passed and you wish to call, avoid calling too early or too late. Suggested hours are between 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Many times when individuals are grieving they may wish to sleep in or just stay in bed. They may also wish to retire early; this is absolutely normal. These adjustments are all necessary as they seek to cope with their loss.

2. Avoid asking sensitive questions surrounding the death such as: the cause of death and how it transpired, funeral plans, family travel plans, whether or not there is a Will etc. Keep in mind that the individual is grieving and may not wish to discuss such details at that point. Your aim should be to make them as comfortable as possible. Keep your conversation along the line of comfort and support. Seek to uplift and assure them that you are available if they need anything. For example: You can say; “I wish to extend condolences on the passing of your sister. I am so sorry for your loss. Please know that I am praying for you.”

3. Avoid visiting during this time as we are still experiencing a pandemic. However, if you must, be sure to contact them first to confirm that it is o.k. to visit. Never turn up unannounced. Try to keep your visiting party very small with a maximum of three persons. Be sure to wear your mask and adhere to all COVID-19 Protocols. Keep in mind also that once you decide to visit, the bereaved becomes the Host and would want to be able to accommodate you well. Being a host to visitors requires cleaning, preparation of a refreshing drink and of course the energy to engage your guests. You can consider taking off some pressure of the Host who is also the bereaved by doing the following;

~Offer to help them with a daily chore eg: Cut the grass, wash the dishes or rake the leaves.

~Offer to provide refreshments that they can serve to their guests.

~Call in advance and find out whether there is something they would like you to bring from the Supermarket.

Individuals who are hurting because of the loss of a loved one appreciates our ability to place their needs above our needs. It is a sign of true care and empathy. Having understanding family and friends around, allows us to relax outside of pressure and demands and it assures us that a support structure is there for us when we need it.

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