Another person’s bereavement is always such a difficult issue to deal with whether you are close to them or not, or whether your relationship with them is personal or professional. There aren’t many of us who can say that they truly know the right words to say or the right things to do. Often, we shy away from saying or doing anything at all. This is true even when we ourselves have experienced bereavement and should be able to easily empathise with the other person who has lost someone close to them.
A common complaint among those who have recently been bereaved is that those who were known as friends or colleagues for many years suddenly disappear from their lives. Some may even cross the road to avoid talking about another person’s loss. There are a number of reasons why this can happen: seeing someone else’s raw grief can unleash our own strong emotions that we had previously thought we were managing to live with. Yet other people may believe that everyone needs time and solitude to come to terms with the loss of a loved one or someone they knew well. Sometimes this is true, but not always.
But what if you are the one providing companion care or live-in care for the bereaved person? How can you, as a care-giver, help your client through their loss? We have produced this short guide so that care-givers, and others, can help people to start to come to terms with the loss of someone close to them.
Talk about the person they have lost
Grief is an extremely powerful emotion, which is why many ordinary people so often avoid talking about it. However, the feelings which accompany grief – sadness, anger, fear – are very real. Never try to brush these feelings aside even when you can see that they cause a great deal of distress. Do remember though that if you feel the situation is overwhelming then it may be better to refer the bereaved person to a professional bereavement counselor.
Naturally, the person who has died is still strong in the memory of the bereaved person. According to The experts at The Live-in Care Hub, talking about them when the bereaved person wishes it can bring great comfort. Many say that just mentioning the deceased’s name and talking about the things they used to do offers support and comfort in the knowledge that other people remember. It is important to remember the happy times and good memories and not be swamped by negative feelings. Talking can help to do that.
You can find more information at https://www.liveincarehub.co.uk
Acknowledge the emotions as they happen
Studies by the mental health charity Mind have suggested that grief comes in stages known as the ‘grief cycle’. Research also suggests that people of different ages and different cultures can adapt very differently. This is something you must take into account. It is normal for a person who is bereaved to feel shock initially and even anger at the person who has died, perhaps leaving them alone in the world. They can take these feelings out on whoever is closest to them on a daily basis. You should try not to judge or berate them for this. Acknowledge their feelings and encourage them to explore why they feel this way. Doing so could help them move on to the next stages of the grieving process. Remember that not everybody experiences grief in the same way – some people may experience anger, frustration, guilt. While others may experience relief (especially if the person who passed away had been suffering with a painful, long-term illness). It’s also common to experience a whole range of mixed emotions that can vary from one day to the next.
If you are supporting or caring for a bereaved person there may be a sense of confusion and not knowing what emotions to expect on any given day.
Distraction sometimes helps
They say that keeping busy is the best way to deal with a crisis of any kind, and there’s undoubtedly some truth in this. While the intention is not to help the bereaved to forget about what’s happened, it can help them to manage their loss in a measured way. Gentle encouragement to get out in the fresh air for walks could be useful. Or, you could go about helping them with all the legalities and paperwork involved in dealing with the deceased’s affairs. Both these could help them over the initial stages of their grief.
Encourage friends and family to visit to talk about the deceased and share memories. If personal visits are not possible set up an internet connection to enable conversations over Skype or Zoom. Find the bereaved person things to do, but not so much that they have no time to relax or just think about the loved one they have lost.
Too much distraction can delay the very natural stages of grief which could surface later. Taking time to be quiet and alone in order to remember and reflect on a person’s life is one way to start the healing process. For some listening to familiar music that brings back fond memories is another way of dealing with their grief.
Be there for them
Let them know they’re not alone and that you and others are there for them, at the end of a phone or through regular activities and meetings. Encourage them out of the isolation they may be feeling, but only when they are ready. Above all, keep talking; open lines of communication are vital to ensuring your client feels supported.
Watch out for any changes in sleep patterns or a loss of appetite as it is common to have trouble sleeping and not want to eat following a bereavement. Fresh air will help with both of these symptoms of grief but also try to prepare easily digestible, small meals to ensure the person is receiving adequate nutrition at this difficult time.
And, as already mentioned, there is also professional help in the form of bereavement counsellors and also medical professionals on hand if the very natural symptoms of grief start to become depression and affect the mental health of the bereaved person.