As you are grieving, seek out the support of the people in your life who are naturally good helpers. A few solid shoulders to cry on and pairs of listening ears can make all the difference in the world.
Sharing your pain with others won’t make it disappear, but it will, over time, make it more bearable.
Reaching out for help also connects you to other people and strengthens the bonds of love that make life seem worth living again.
“When you are grieving, you need the support of people who will walk beside you. You do not need people who want to walk in front of you and lead you down the path that they think is right. Nor do you need people who want to walk behind you so that they don’t have to be present to your pain.
“Instead, you need and deserve the companionship of people who will come alongside you and let you express whatever you are thinking and feeling. Their role is not to try to ‘fix it’ or give you unasked-for advice. Their role is to be there, actively listen, and offer their love and presence.”— Dr. Alan Wolfelt
Turning to friends and family
Sharing your inner thoughts and feelings of grief with compassionate friends and family members is one essential step toward healing. Talking about your grief will help. Turn to those individuals you know to have good interpersonal skills. Not everyone is equipped to be a helper in grief, but many are. If you encounter people who try to judge you, shame you, or silence your grief, ignore them and instead reach out to others. One or two good listeners may be all you need.
Don’t feel bad about accepting the help of others right now, either. If people want to cook for you, run errands, do chores, or simply be near you while you rest and withdraw, they are giving you a great gift. Learn to accept their kindness with gratitude. You will need their support, now and always.
Many people in grief find that support groups comprised other grieving people are extremely helpful. Coming together and sharing the common bond of experience can be invaluable in helping you heal. Knowing that you are not alone when you feel like you are going crazy or can’t survive will provide you with essential comfort and hope.
In grief support groups, members talk about their experiences in a non-threatening, safe atmosphere. Group members are usually very patient with one another, and since they are not friends or family, can often offer outside perspectives and affirmation.
To find a grief support group in your area, contact your local hospice, hospital, place of worship, or counseling office.
A professional counselor can be a very helpful addition to your support system when you are grieving. There is no shame or weakness in seeing a counselor. On the contrary, it takes strength and wisdom to find a good counselor and begin the hard but rewarding work of telling your story week after week.
Grief counseling will help any mourner, but it is a particularly good idea if your loss experience has been complicated by circumstances such as suicide, violent death, the loss of a young person, or other challenges. Death is always hard, but some kinds of deaths and situations can make it even harder to acknowledge and mourn. Grief counseling can be a tremendous help with this.
Get recommendations from friends about counselors they’ve found helpful. Look specifically for professionals with experience and interest in grief counseling. Grief is not an illness but instead a normal, natural, and necessary process, and it is important that your counselor concurs.