Self-Healing Expressions
how to deal with grief of a friend, helping friends in grief
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  how to deal with grief of a friend, helping friends in grief


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words of comfort in bereavement, sympathy quotes, sympathy poems, poems about sympathy for a death, words of comfort for sympathy, free sympathy poems

Finding Your Way through Grief: A Guide for the First Year by Marty Tousley, RN
Finding Your Way
through Grief:
A Guide for
the First Year

   Helping Friends in Grief ~ Online Support

Helping Another in Grief
  Helping Another in Grief
by Marty Tousley, Bereavement Counselor, CNS-BC, FT

Be guided on how to comfort a grieving person with how-to eBooks by a Certified Grief Counselor.

Topics include:
  • What Is Needed From a Helper?
  • Helping Over Time
  • Myths and Misconceptions about Grief
  • Myths about the Loss of a Cherished Pet
  • A List of Don'ts
  • Words to Avoid
  • Words of comfort

Dear Marty ~ Helping Friends in Grief

Q & A by Bereavement Counselor Marty Tousley

Question: I am concerned about a friend of mine who recently lost her mother. She naturally was devastated but has not cried in the months since her mother died. She is very worried about herself because she has not broken down and cried yet. Can you give me some words of wisdom to help her along or a website, etc. to check out that might be of some help to her?

Answer: I'm so sorry to learn of the recent death of your friend's mother. How fortunate she is to have such a caring person as you beside her as she struggles to cope with this loss.

You say that your friend is worried because she hasn't "broken down and cried" yet. When evaluating one's grief as normal or abnormal, I think it's extremely important to keep in mind that, although certain patterns and reactions are universal and fairly predictable, everyone's grief is as unique to that individual as his or her fingerprints. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, and there is no specific time frame.

You say that your friend's mother died within the last few months. I'm not sure if her death came suddenly and unexpectedly or if it took place after a long, lingering illness. Regardless of the circumstances, a person in mourning can look and feel quite off balance, especially when that first wave of shock and disbelief wears off. Some may interpret the initial numbness of grief as a sign of indifference toward the one who died or even denial that a death has occurred. The sorrow that normally accompanies grief can look a lot like "depression" to people unfamiliar with grief. But more often than not, what you see is a very normal reaction: a natural response to losing a cherished loved one. It's very important to remember that, in and of itself, grief is not a pathological condition. That's why it's so helpful to read about normal grief, because it helps us know what to expect and learn how we can manage all those reactions that may be unfamiliar to us.

I don't know what bereavement resources are available to your friend in your community, but I can tell you that most cities and towns have all sorts of places and people waiting to help with grief. On behalf of your friend, you might check with your local library, hospice, mortuary, church, synagogue, temple or mosque. Many organizations nowadays offer bereavement support groups (at no cost) as well as individual bereavement counseling, if your friend is open to that. If she has access to a computer, the Internet is another wonderful source of support - you can tell her about on-line Grief and Loss Discussion Groups which are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and other forms of grief-healing support. My own grief-healing site has links to a wide array of resources.

I'm also including below a piece that appears on my site's Comfort for Grieving Hearts page, in hopes that it will be of some help to you.

How to Help a Friend in Grief
By Bill Jenkins

As much as we would like to avoid unpleasantness in our lives, sometimes it is inescapable. Instead, we must learn how to grieve in healthy ways and work through our difficulties. If you are wondering what you can do to help a friend who is in intense mourning, here are some suggestions:

Recognize that everyone grieves at their own pace. Some progress rather quickly, some move very slowly. We never move at the speed that others think we should. Help us take one day at a time.

Keep us company and be there for us. You don't need to say anything profound or do anything earthshaking. Often, your greatest help is your quiet presence and simplest deeds.

Make suggestions and initiate contact and activities. It is important for you to respect our privacy and give us some time alone, but we also may not have the energy to structure our lives right after a traumatic loss. We may have to rely on others to think of things that we don't know to ask for.

Provide a safe environment for us to show strong emotions. It may be very painful, but it can be of enormous help.

Help us remember good things. Tell us your memories of our loved one as you listen to us tell you ours. If we begin to show our emotions outwardly, you have not upset us, you have simply enabled us to be a bit more open in your presence.

Be there after the first wave is over. Make the effort to call, to come by, to help us out six months and even a year down the road. Crowds may be difficult for us. Shopping and holidays will be overwhelming.
Offer your help. If we're not up to a visit we'll let you know, but let us know you remember and are there for us.

Listen to us. We need to tell our story over and over in order to process our grief. We may even say outrageous things. Don't judge us by what we say or how we feel. We have a lot to work through, and in time we will come to the answers that are right for us.

Be careful of clichés, religious platitudes, or easy answers. You may not be able to help us with certain issues right now, so don't be too quick to share your opinions if we say something you don't agree with. We need time to work things out on our own.

Be sensitive to our needs, be patient, have confidence and believe in us. We will get better, we will experience healing; but it will take some time, and it can be rough going for much of the way.

Be on the lookout for destructive behaviors. Traumatic loss can lead some people into depression, alcohol or drug abuse. We may need you to keep an eye on us while things are especially tough.

Help us find humorous diversion. Laughter is good medicine.

Be willing to do difficult things with us. We may need someone to sit with us in court; we may need a safe place to rage; we may need help with the funeral or afterwards. There may be some hard times ahead and facing them alone can be terrifying.

Help us find ways to bring good things out of the bad. It is important that our loved one be remembered and memorialized.

Find out about grief. Read some of the books that are available. The more you know, the better able you will be to help us.

Help us to find support and inspiration. Often, a poem or song will speak to us in ways that no one else can. Also, talking to someone who has survived a similar loss can help us to realize that we are not alone in our grief.

We have to go through this valley in order to get to the other side. Dealing with grief cannot be avoided or postponed. Grief can make relationships difficult and you may get frustrated with us or feel uneasy around us. But please remember that now, more than ever, we need the caring and patient support of our friends and family. Help us get through this as well as we are able. Your true friendship and companionship, your kindness and patience can help us get our lives back together.

We will experience some level of grief over our loved one's loss for the rest of our lives. Some days will simply be better than others. One day, we hope to reach a point where our good days outnumber the bad. That will be a major milestone for us.

Thank you for being here for us.

Reprinted with permission from What To Do When the Police Leave: A Guide to the First Days of Traumatic Loss (3rd Edition), by Bill Jenkins, WBJ Press, Richmond, VA, 20001

I hope this information proves helpful to you. Above all, please be patient with your friend. Grief work is some of the most difficult work she will ever have to do, and it will help her to know that you will let her do it at her own pace, and that you don't expect her to have to do it all alone.

Wishing your friend the peace and healing she deserves,

Marty Tousley, Bereavement Counselor

Marty Tousley is the creator and instructor of the Self-Healing Expressions course The First Year of Grief: Help for the Journey. Click button to learn more about Marty and her grief-healing course.

Copyright © 2004 – 2009 Martha M. Tousley. All rights reserved. If you are interested in publishing this article, please email .


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