Grief is a normal and healthy way to respond to a loss. Understanding the grieving process will help you to provide support to a grieving friend or family member.
Most people go through these stages along the journey of accepting a loss:
- Shock or disbelief
- Acceptance and hope
Symptoms of Grieving: Is This Normal?
The response to a loss varies as much as people vary. The type of loss suffered and the amount of support received from friends and family both play a huge role in determining how a person copes.
Weight loss, loss of appetite, lack of concentration, trouble sleeping, loss of memory and exhaustion are all common physical effects of grief. A wide range of emotions from laughter to anger are normal. Having good days and then out of nowhere having a grief-stricken day is normal. Grieving for one year or ten, both are normal.
What a Grieving Person Needs Most
A grieving person needs a safe person to talk to, who can listen and offer support. This helps them to experience the process of grief. These things are important, however:
The number one thing a grieving person needs is to experience the grieving process.
They need to experience the hurt before the hope, the pain before the acceptance. There are many stops before the final destination. Rest assured, the end of the journey is acceptance and hope. With time and support they will come to terms with the loss.
Watch Out For These Unhealthy Signs of Grief
Unhealthy ways of dealing with grief can be any activities that hinder the grieving process. The causes of all unhealthy grieving behaviors are avoidance and isolation.
Turning to drugs or alcohol to numb the pain.
Working long hours at work to stay distracted.
Avoiding friends and favorite social activities. By isolating themselves from people a griever avoids expressing grief. Many times all they need is a trusted friend to confide in.
Remember grief heals best when it can be shared with others.
Watch out for a grieving individual who is staying isolated and does not have anybody to talk to, they may be struggling with thoughts of suicide.
Threats of suicide should always be taken seriously! Find out more at Befrienders.org
When to Seek Help for a Loved One
Is your friend’s behavior is rooted in avoidance or isolation?
Are they avoiding the grieving process?
If they start to exhibit destructive behaviors or if you think they might be suicidal, seek professional help. They may need the intervention of a trained grief counselor.
However most cases of bereavement simply need the right kind of support from a trusted friend. It might also help them to be around other people who have experienced a similar kind of loss and can provide understanding. You can recommend a bereavement group or on-line forum.
Continue to be a companion and to provide support to the best of your ability. Give a friendly reminder here and there, but know that your friendship can be one of the best things for her. If you can be a good listener and provide a shoulder to cry on you can be a tremendous help through the grieving process.
Bringing Hope to a Hurting Friend
Offering sympathy may become discouraging once you realize that you cannot take away the pain.
Remember you can help a friend along the path towards healing by simply supporting them through the grieving process.
Instead of trying to rescue them from the pain, focus on bringing hope into the painful situation. This is the best anyone can do and this is true sympathy.
A great to inspire hope and promote healing is the help a grieving friend find a special way of remembrance. You will get some idea by seeing this inspiring list of creative ways to commemorate a loved one.