A friend has experienced the death of someone loved. You want to help, but you are not sure how to go about it. This article will guide you in ways to turn your cares and concerns into positive actions.
How to Really Help Someone in Mourning
It’s about not walking away. Granted, you may part company after the funeral but a true ally doesn’t stay away long; a better-than-good ally keeps checking in with the bereaved. Being a friend in need during this time can feel very difficult.
Rachael Naomi Remen, M.D, wrote what she considers to be the focus of this grief work: “Grieving allows us to heal, to remember with love rather than pain. It is a sorting process. One by one you let go of things that are gone and you mourn for them. One by one you take hold of the things that have become a part of who you are and build again.” You do that with a model of task-oriented bereavement.
The Four Tasks of Mourning
James Worden writes that the four things that must be completed in order to adjust to the death of a significant other are:
- To accept the reality of the loss
- To process the pain of grief
- To adjust to a world without the deceased
- To find an enduring connection with the deceased in the midst of embarking on a new life
Those four tasks define the work of grieving. When you choose to become an ally to someone in mourning, it becomes your responsibility to support them in achieving those things within their time frame—not yours.
– Worden, James, Grief Counseling & Grief Therapy: A Handbook for the Mental Health Practitioner, 4th Edition, 2009.