When you think about supporting someone who’s grieving, what comes to mind first?
Most, people say to me: ‘I want to take away their pain’ or ‘If only I could make it right again’.
Truth is, that the ‘Art of Grief Support’ is not about doing something. In my view, it is more about being. Being there, as an accepting companion, often without words, maybe with a hand on their shoulder, silently conveying the message of ‘I’m here, I accept that this is hard for you and I don’t have the need to change the expression of your pain’.
You might think ‘but this is soooo hard’. Yes, it is and so is experiencing the pain of grief. Maybe others would comment ‘no, it can’t just be that you just sit there and do nothing’. In fact you are ‘doing’ a lot but it’s not what we usually think of as helpful doing.
Just even the energy of your presence with the intent of not wanting to change the experience of the bereaved allows them to just be with what it is in the moment. It allows them to accept their experience of grief a little bit more and in that there is something that relaxes, something that gives them a moment of respite, being able to take a breath.
Grieving needs A LOT of energy and often grievers get exasperated because they also (believe they) need to in some way take care of their surroundings by not overwhelming them with their grief response.
There is nothing that can change the fact of the loss. Your way of supporting however can change the experience of grief and allow the bereaved to experience it without the feeling of ‘I need to be done with this now’ or ‘I shouldn’t cry’.
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