Watching someone you care about go through the early weeks, months, and even years of grief can engender feelings of helplessness in all of us. There are so many times that you wish you could take away their pain and to be able to “do something” to ease their journey. You may even find yourself feeling that they “should” be behaving or reacting differently. Please understand that grief is a process that involves a lot of time, energy, and emotion.
When someone close to you is grieving, you may wonder what would be most appropriate for you to do or say to support them. Will it upset them if you mention the name of the person who died? Will you seem insensitive if you don’t mention the person? You may soon discover that words that stop a conversation one week may lead to an intimate dialogue on another occasion. Actions that are appreciated now may feel intrusive the next time. You have no way of knowing exactly how what you do or say will be received, but don’t let that stop you from reaching out. There are a variety of ways to demonstrate your caring and thoughtfulness.
Children grieve differently than adults and may even appear as if they aren’t grieving at all. They may be reluctant to share their grief with family for fear of upsetting them. They often feel isolated in the school setting where they are reluctant to express their grief, concerned that they will appear different or be teased.