Grief 101: What to Say After Loss

Last October, my dad passed away suddenly and I didn’t know how to grieve or what to do. But what about the people around me? Did their words help or harm? Surprisingly there are things that don’t help- but some that do! Let’s explore grief a little bit first.

First of all,  Grief effects everyone differently but the same is true for all- it effects the body the most! Since emotions are actually chemicals in the body they immediately lodge somewhere in the body. Encourage your friend or relative who has suffered a loss to acknowledge the effects its having on their physical body.

When you have a trauma like the loss of a parent, sibling or close friend your body can react in many ways, here were some things I experienced that first week: loss of appetite, sleep deprivation, anxiety, fear, adrenal crash and all the muscles in my back and shoulders were tense from crying.

I highly recommend a chiropractor adjustment and seeing a naturopathic to help you get the right supplements to support your body’s ability to heal after the stress of the loss. Offer to pay for these if you are close to the friend or family member who has suffered a loss- maybe even offer to take them and make the appointment?

But what do you SAY to that person who’s world has been rocked? Here are some things that person does NOT want to hear:

How are you? ummmmmmm really? Honestly my mom and I wanted to scream when people would ask us this! My life will never be the same and I am spending my days either crying or making decisions on a funeral…. don’t ask this. Instead say:

“I’m so sorry for your loss”  or “I love you and have been praying for you” or “How can I pray for you?”

It’s most obvious- but getting help with meals is such a HUGE blessing! We had a friend who set up a meal train online and it was filled quickly for 2 weeks straight but what was surprising was the e-gift cards that came from friends and family around the US (I’m thinking of you Amy, Yancy & Marci!) I also had some Instagram friends who were so generous with restaurant gift cards and it meant so much to me and my family.

One night weeks after the funeral, and after everyone else’s life was back to normal I had a night I couldn’t get it together to make dinner and used a gift card to Panera a friend had sent us. My husband and my 2 boys all felt so loved that evening instead of a rough night at home, we had a meal out as an option and I needed it.

So many people asked me “What can I do to help?” I know they meant well and their hearts were good but it was overwhelming to remember who asked and then when I asked a few friends who had offered to help to do something several of them didn’t respond back or end up not helping at all? What the what? I was hyper sensitive and could remember who reached out and who stayed silent.

Don’t be that friend who does nothing. Text, call or email- just reach out so that person feels loved. Don’t try to make something happen around your schedule, instead make a gift basket or send a gift card. What could that person need that would be helpful immediately? Paper plates, utensils, napkins for meals so clean-up is quick, hire a lawn guy to do the grass the following week, hire a house cleaner because who wouldn’t love a clean house! If you don’t have the budget for these bigger things stick to a gift card to the grocery store or even a smoothie place.

Remember that any thoughtful gesture will be appreciated.  One thing that was very odd is that we had soooooooo many people send HUGE bouquets of flowers and filled my moms house with so much smell that we all reacted to the pollen and got coughs. I think instead of flowers, send several gift cards! Even spreading them out over a few months- it would mean so much to that person!

I also received a few books that were helpful, here are some I would recommend:

 

 

 

 

 

I also wasn’t aware of the program called Grief Share until a family member recommended it and it’s what helped me heal the most. It’s a FREE 13-week course (www.griefshare.org) led by instructors that have also been through grief, it’s based on the bible and requires some homework (that’s the part that helps you process the most!) and has videos that are shown at every class.

Grief is a journey, its something to go through. My leaders said that if you don’t let yourself grieve you will have to do it again. Talking through it with a counselor or going through a program life Grief Share is a great way to grieve correctly and once! Encourage the person you know grieving to attend a Grief Share class!

Have you walked through a loss? Do you have any other recommendations I should include? I would love to hear from you…

 

xo,

Lizzy

 

p.s. Don’t say you will pray for someoneunless you really do! I felt like people threw this phrase around a lot, try to be sincere and only say this if you will pray!

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5 thoughts on “Grief 101: What to Say After Loss

  1. Thanks for sharing your experience Lizzy and what helped you. I often wonder what to say or do and this really helped. I like the idea of sending a cleaner and I like that you say – just say something! Email, call, text. I agree, when you are going through a tough time, people can tend to shy away because they don’t know what to say which can inadvertently leave people struggling to feeling alone. I’m sorry about your Dad.

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