Being with someone who is grieving is hard. Have you ever been close to someone who is struggling? Maybe their mental health is unbalanced. They could have received a terminal diagnosis. Maybe they lost a loved one and are in the depths of grief.
Pain and loss causes grief and can be a long process to work through. Standing by someone when they are in pain can be hard. It’s hard because you may not know how to help. It is not easy no matter how much you want to help. It can be emotionally exhausting to support someone who is struggling, especially if appropriate boundaries are not in place.
Pain and Grief Shows Up In Many Ways
Pain and loss presents itself in so many different ways and is unique to each individual. You can’t simply look at someone and determine that they are experiencing pain or grief. It is also impossible to look at someone and determine if they are happy and living a “perfect” life. Everyone has their story and we all deal with it differently.
Supporting a grieving spouse, sibling, or child can be touch and go sometimes. How do we make sure their needs are being met? How do we know when to adjust or “pivot” treatments? What is the best way to communicate with each other and set boundaries?
Have you ever had a loved one who came home from a long day at work and just dumped all their frustrations, pain and sorrow on you? You want to help. You want to take away the pain but you can’t. You want to be there for them but you don’t know what they need.
Grief is Ever Changing
An immediate reaction to hearing a loved one’s pain is to want to solve the problem for them. Grief and pain can be inconsistent, unexpected and even erratic. One day a song or simple reminder of a loss can set someone over the edge. They won’t want to talk, they might be in tears and just can’t get it together. A week later they may see the same information and have a totally different response. You just never know how and when grief will show up which makes it all the harder to know how to be a great support.
If you have a loved one who is grieving and you are doing your best to support them. Keep going, don’t give up. They say “communication is key” and that stands true when supporting a loved one in their grief as well. Ask them what they need. Be specific about what you can offer and what and when you are going to do it. Being vague and flaky will lead to more struggle. Being able to communicate and create boundaries will allow for all parties to work toward healthy healing without getting burnt out.
If you need more support for grief find additional information here.