The natural reaction of the human spirit is to try to help others when they are upset or in pain. When you hear of the loss of a loved one, you immediately want to comfort those closest to them… even when you are one of the closest.
When Dad passed away, telling our family members and friends was emotionally draining. It made it more and more real with each phone call. Even though avoidance wasn’t an option, hearing the reactions of others was brutal. Keeping with that natural response, our first instinct was to comfort them. Then we realized that we needed comforting ourselves, that we couldn’t really help anyone else through this time until we grieved personally.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand how important my Dad was to so many. It was just impossible for me to try to help ease anyone else’s pain until I had my own under control in some way. There is no concrete time table for this, mourning a loss is a very individual experience.
Others came and went from the house and the funeral home and Church, offering prayers and condolences. When you experience a tragic loss, it’s important to remember that everyone is doing the best they can, and may not know what to say. They try to be in tune with what you might need, but everyone goes through a time like this differently, so be patient with them. Some things people say might come off as insensitive, but remember that they may just feel awkward and unsure of how to approach you.
Never be afraid to let others know how you are feeling or if you need something. People genuinely are there to be of help; guessing what you may need is the hard part for them. When my family and friends saw me for the first time after Dad passed, they didn’t know what to expect. You need to give others a chance to process your reaction as well, as they will normally try to follow your lead.
Pray for the family who has lost someone and be sure to check in on them from time to time. Let them guide the conversation and be supportive and genuine throughout. They may not be able to say it at the moment, but they really do appreciate all you’re doing for them.