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“Open your arms to life! Let it strut into your heart in all its messy glory!”
 
–Deborah Wiles

Five Ways to Help Others Grieve in Caring Ways

Heartlinks Grief Center, based in Belleville, Illinois serves all those that need help with their grief journey in Southwestern Illinois.  The staff truly understands how to help others grieve – and caring is central to their mission. 

As Valentine’s Day approaches our hearts turn to those we care about.  It’s a special day we set aside just for telling those we love, that we do. 

But when we are grieving the loss of someone we care about, holidays like Valentine’s Day are painful, difficult days.  Days when others don’t truly understand why you are crying and sad.  Days that we feel the loss even more than normal, everyday days.  Days we don’t know how we can go on.

In We Lost Her, the book I recently authored that describes my siblings and my grief journey after our Mom’s tragic death in 1970, the last chapter of the book concludes with five “learnings.” Learnings about how grief impacted us as we journeyed through life.  The last learning was, perhaps, the most important – a call to action for each of us to help care about others as they are grieving.  As described in Chapter 17 of We Lost Her,

“In this spirit, our fifth and final learning is that we need to do more to help others who are grieving, whether the griever is ourselves, someone we love or most importantly, our children.

In earlier generations, there were cultural norms about grieving.  Grieving people wore black for a prescribed number of months, didn’t participate in social events or work for a fixed period of time.  Current norms tend to push grief under the rug, saying as so many did to us: “Get over it.”  Quickly!  We’re uncomfortable with your crying and carrying on: “Get over it.”  Get back to work or school and don’t act like anything has changed. 

Grief is ignored, hoping it will go away.  People don’t know what to say, so they ignore the bereaved or, worse yet, unintentionally say things that are hurtful.  The very normal expressions of sadness should be encouraged as healthy grieving – and all of us can help change this norm.”

But, as I wrote and reflected on how I helped others grieve throughout my life, I’d not been a good example of caring for others.

“I realize as I write this, chastising “us” as a society, that I myself have not done a very good job of helping others grieve.  I attend visitations and funerals.  I give memorials and send flowers or cards.  I taught our children the importance of these simple acts. However, I don’t always follow up and offer my support to those grieving in ways that can be impactful to their healing.  I plan to do better.

So, how do we help care for those that are grieving?  There are five actions that we suggest in We Lost Her.  Five things that are not necessarily hard, they just take DOING!  In the weeks ahead, I’ll dive into the five things, hopefully providing you some helpful ideas on ways to help others.

In the meantime, take one simple action.  On this Valentine’s Day, be sure to tell those you love, that you do.  Give your love generously.  If someone you care about is grieving, do something special for them.  A call, a card, a cake, flowers, a visit, just your time.  Take that action that lets them feel your love, your care for them.

Be Blessed,

Ellen

“We Grow Stronger Together”

Ellen Krohne, author of We Lost Her, available on Amazon.com

 

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