How To Make Room For Other People’s Grief

By: Alterna Cremation
Tuesday, September 20, 2022

In today’s society, grief is often an avoided topic.  People aren’t sure what to say or how to help when someone they know is grieving the loss of a loved one.  And, to prevent saying the wrong thing, people sometimes say nothing at all.  They may try to focus on the positives, tell the grieving person that everything will be ok, or fall back on other empty platitudes.


The truth is that, while the intention behind these types of reactions may be coming from the best possible place, they are usually unwelcome at best.  At worst, they can feel truly hurtful and damaging to the grieving person.  


There is no template for grief—no 10-step guide or rulebook to follow.  And every person’s grieving process will be different.  That being said, there are definitely some concrete ways you can make space for another person’s grief, no matter how it may manifest.  


Here are a few simple possibilities of ways you can be there for someone who is grieving while genuinely making space for their grief:


Let Them Do the Talking (or Not)

Being with someone who is grieving can feel uncomfortable and sometimes, we try to make the moment less awkward by talking.  But when we talk about our own beliefs, opinions, memories, and experiences, we foreground ourselves instead of making room for the person who is actually grieving.


Let the grieving person take the lead.  Sit with them and let them share.  Don’t judge.  And don’t be afraid to just sit in silence if that’s what they want.  Sometimes they may want to share the same things over and over.


To show a grieving person that you’re there for them in whatever capacity they need, it’s okay to say something directly along the lines of, “I don’t know what to say or do, but I’m here for you.” It’s also alright to refer to the deceased person specifically by name and to the fact that they have died.  Being direct can be a relief for someone who is grieving; there’s no need to try to make your words too flowery.

Be Present

Yes, it can be awkward or scary to connect with someone who has experienced a major loss.  Sometimes we even make excuses for not connecting with a grieving person (such as that they probably need space), when in reality, we’re actually avoiding our own discomfort.  


Focus on the grieving person and have the courage to step forward.  You don’t have to talk long or stay long, but do take the initiative to reach out, even if you’re not sure what to say.  


Help in a Concrete Way

Sometimes actions speak louder than words.  When someone is grieving, they’ll rarely respond to a vague offer like “Let me know if you need anything,” even if the offer is genuine.  


Instead, consider making an offer to do something concrete and specific. Cook them a meal, walk their dog, or tell them you’re coming over to vacuum the house.  Finding out what’s actually needed is usually much more helpful than sending flowers or chocolates.


Alterna Grief Resources

If you’re in need of cremation services in East St. Paul and Winnipeg, Alterna Cremation offers direct and dignified services.  We’re committed to supporting our families through the grieving process.  For more information, visit our website or contact us any time.


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