After a loved one dies, people need support. Sympathy and condolences can offer relief to those experiencing grief. You do not have to move mountains to be sympathetic to those who are grieving. A listening ear or kind words can suffice and will create a significant effect on people after they lose someone important. No matter what you do, offering sympathy and condolences can be powerful to those in the midst of grief and may contribute to their healing.
Listening is a simple action but can be powerful to those in grief. Allowing others to express their grief keeps them from bottling their emotions. Talking about feelings is a healthy way of dealing with them, so be a sympathetic ear if someone in grief needs to talk. Listening can also mean looking out for grieving peoples' needs. Be aware of things they might need, such as food or services. For example, a grieving mother may need someone to watch her kids or help cook dinner.
Honor Grieving Processes
Sympathy can be as easy as respecting how people choose to grieve. Not everyone grieves in the same way. In particular, men and women often differ in how they respond to the death of a loved one. According to "Hello Grief", many men seek distraction to help them, taking up hobbies and activities to process grief. Women seek to express their emotions and talk through their grief. Other factors that may influence how people grieve are race, religion and culture. Respect how people choose to grieve and the customs they observe throughout the process.
If you are unsure how to offer sympathy and condolences, send a card to those in grief. Cards are concrete reminders of your kindness and how much you care for those grieving the loss of a loved one. Sympathy cards are a place to illustrate your care for those grieving, as well as how their loved one influenced you. These cards can be especially helpful during the holidays, which can be difficult after the death of a loved one.
Acknowledge Their Grief
Acknowledging the pain or loss others feel after a death can help them feel less alone. This act is different from assuming their feelings, in which you state that you know or understand how they are feeling. Acknowledging their pain demonstrates that you recognize how the death of their loved one is affecting them, reducing any feelings of isolation. Feeling alone can exacerbate the stress they feel from grief, so mitigating it is beneficial for others' mental health.
S. Grey has a Master of Science in counseling psychology from the University of Central Arkansas. He is also pursuing a PhD and has a love for psychology, comic books and social justice. He has been published in a text on social psychology and regularly presents research at regional psychology conferences.
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