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How to Support Your Loved One When They’re Grieving

Supporting a loved one through grief can feel like walking a tightrope. Will I say the right thing? Should we talk about it or avoid the topic? 

Everyone processes grief differently, but for many people, grief can often feel very isolating. If you’re unsure how to help your loved one through a difficult time, these five tips can help:

1. Be Present

For many individuals experiencing grief, talking about their loved one’s passing or reminiscing on memories can help them process their loss and move toward acceptance. Let them direct the conversation when they’re feeling open to talking, and try to resist passing any judgment on the information they share during this vulnerable time.

2. Validate Their Emotions

It’s normal to want to provide solutions or “fix” something when your loved ones are experiencing challenges, but that approach doesn’t apply to grief. Instead offer them a safe space to process the rollercoaster of emotions that often accompanies loss and show them that their feelings are valid. 

3. Reminisce in the Memories

Sharing stories and keeping a loved one’s memory alive can be incredibly healing. Don’t shy away from talking about the individual who passed. It may feel more comfortable to avoid the topic, but honoring a person’s memory is the best way to find closure in their loss. Your grieving loved one may feel more isolated if they feel like they’re the only one remembering the person they lost.

4. Avoid the Silver Linings

It can be tempting to talk about the “bright side” of someone’s passing–ie: “at least they’re not suffering any more” or “at least you got to spend the holidays with them one last time.” These types of statements are considering silver linings, but can minimize a person’s loss when they’re still grieving. They may come to these silver linings on their own as time passes, so in the meantime it’s better to avoid anything that starts with “at least.”

5. Offer Your Support

Offering your help to a loved one who is grieving is the best way to support them; however, try to suggest specific tasks and avoid open ended offers, such as “Let me know if you need anything.” Instead offer concrete suggestions, such as “I’m going to bring you dinner on a Friday,” or initiate a few housekeeping tasks during your visits. Offering assistance in the form of actions may provide your loved one with the support they need.

Supporting your loved one when they’re grieving is not easy. There is no shortcut to processing grief, but you can help them find closure by validating their emotions, honoring their loss, and offering concrete support.

Willow River is Here to Help

At Willow River, we understand the challenges Alzheimer’s and dementia can bring. If you have questions or need help, Willow River has the answers and resources to assist you in this transition. Call Willow River Senior Living at 888-546-1886 or contact us through our website to start the conversation today.