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How to help when life gets hard

Part 3: Cognitive/Intellectual Helps

Previously, we have discussed ways that we can physically and emotionally help our loved ones who are facing a tough time, whether it is from a death or another loss. Grief can manifest in all areas of our being. When we are grieving, our cognitive abilities are impaired as well: we process information slower, we are foggy-headed, and we can be forgetful. These are all normal grief expressions. You’re not crazy! But you may feel like it at times. So how do we help and encourage our friends cognitively? I’m so glad you asked!

So, you can’t cook but you can write—offer to write and submit the obituary or help write the program for the service. Are you super organized? Help make ‘to do lists’ and/or separate and sort the mail (administrative tasks). Help schedule flights and/or help them with their packing list (while maintaining social distance). No one needs to arrive somewhere with one blue shoe and one black one along with a missing belt! If details are your ‘thing’, find ways to help your friend who may not be as ‘with it’ as they normally are.

Try to gear your conversation to your loved one’s attention span. While we need to acknowledge just how bad their situation really is, helping them focus on whatever brings out good feelings is very beneficial. In addition, supporting decisions that they make is important. When we are overwhelmed and making decisions, the last thing we need is criticism. Be a supportive sounding board; a non-judgmental listening ear is a rare gift and brings peace to those on the receiving end.

By keeping both your mind and eyes open, you will find your own way to express your love in just the way your friend needs it. Once you find it, take action. There is no kindness that is too small to express.