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Brighter Outlook: helping friends through the pain of bereavement

By West Briton  |  Posted: July 24, 2014

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AS a psychologist, I am sometimes asked how we can best help someone who has lost a close family member, like a child, spouse or partner. Having worked with people who have lost loved ones, they often say that friends can offer incredible help, while unfortunately some others will literally 'cross the road' rather than meet them. (Maybe some people just feel afraid of what to say and fear that they make things worse). It is a time where many people say that they find out who their true friends are.

Supporting someone experiencing a powerful loss can be incredibly difficult. But there is only one thing that needs to be done. And that is to 'be there' and listen. It is important to stay alongside that person even in the throes of enormous distress. Not to push the emotions away or try to soothe, but just to listen.

We cannot take away the pain but we can provide enormous support just by being there.

It is important also to remember that there is no 'right' or 'wrong' way to grieve. Everyone does it in their own way and at their own pace. Some people go through what is like a terrible 'winter of despair'. Everything to them will feel dark, cold and lifeless. Remember that this is normal and it is also temporary, although it may take many months before new shoots of energy and hope begin to emerge.

It may also be helpful to offer help with practical day to day tasks, such as looking after pets, shopping, etc.

Above all, show up. Be there.

Caring for one another at such times is what helps us all to get through such difficult times.

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