It’s a cliche about us all being different, but it’s true. This can apply to any of our behaviour, including how we grieve. However, as with anything in life, we can find aspects common to all of us.
Possibly one of the most helpful things that someone who is grieving may want from those around them, is empathy. The difference between empathy and sympathy is explored in this short video by Brene Brown:
Showing someone empathy can be difficult if you have not had a similar experience to them, or just can’t see their point of view. However, just being with someone who is grieving, reaching out to them, perhaps with a hug, or even just sitting with them, can make all the difference to someone feeling supported or not.
Such an action, may seem so simple, insignificant, and perhaps even pointless to the person providing the empathy, but can be huge to the person who is trying to cope with a death. It can make all the difference to that person as they live each day, with loss.
It can be much more effective than walking away from someone who is grieving and trying to pretend that the death hasn’t happened, or that the grieving person will ‘get over it’ soon.
They may not get over it soon, especially if they are having to cope with it on their own – and they may be desperate for support.
A lack of support for our grief from those around us has been termed ‘disenfranchised grief’. This is where someone is grieving, but those around them can’t understand their grief, do not accept their grief as valid, ignore it, and/or just don’t want to let the person grieve.
The following video was made by Blue Cross, and gives an overview of disenfranchised grief from a Blue Cross helper talking about her experience of living through the death of her beloved dog:
Angela Fletcher Bereavement Counselling