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How to help when life gets hard

Part 2: Emotional Helps

When there has been a death or loss, we sometimes hesitate to do anything for those we love because we simply don’t know what to do. In our last post we discussed physical ways that we can help those who are facing a tough time. Today, we are going to take a look at how we can support their emotional well-being.

Something we all need to understand is that everyone accepts reality and grieves uniquely, so the first help we can offer is to simply support their feelings. Being supportive to a stressed person, without judging, is huge. Validating their pain and loss is also extremely important. Acknowledging the situation and talking directly lets the person know that their pain is seen.  When you do not know what to say simply say, “I’m so sorry for ____. I don’t know what to say, but I’m here for you”.

Whether it is with a text, call, or message, keep showing up. Put a reminder in your calendar if you have to; silence can be deafening and you do not want to cause further pain. If you know someone who has gone through something similar, suggest connecting your friend with them. In addition, offering to go with your loved one to a support group meeting may help provide them the courage to get the help that they need. Look for ways that you can nourish and encourage their devastated heart back to health.

Often, normalcy is what your friend needs, so do something ‘normal’ or ‘routine’ with them. ‘Normal’ is probably one of the last words you would use to describe life during the COVID pandemic, so you will have to think outside the box on what ‘normal’ looks like. For example, if you would get coffee with your loved one every week pre-pandemic, then you could have a weekly Zoom call that they could look forward to. Whatever it is, keep inviting them until they are able to say yes again. Keep reaching out. Continue letting them know you are there and have not left. It takes intentionality. Be intentional!

Lastly, do not be afraid to make a bereaved person laugh. Laughter decreases stress hormones and triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain. Sometimes it really is the best medicine!