Comfort2themourning's Blog

How to Respond and React

Many do not know what to say or do around someone who has suffered a loss in their life. On this page we want to give words of guidance to those who come into contact with that person. We may pull some from comments others have left and put them on this page so the reader may be able to have a concise list to draw from.

I am going to include a list for the widower below. If you would like to make further comments and suggestions for the widower, you may do so on the “For the Widower – Comments” page. We added that particular page so the reader would not have to scroll through so much and also so it would be easier to see what others have to share. We hope and pray this is a big help to all.

How to Talk to a Widower
Talking to a man who has lost his life partner can be extremely awkward; it’s difficult to know what to say. This is especially true if you haven’t been in the situation yourself or are lacking in empathy. But you can have a successful conversation with a widower by employing good listening skills, acknowledging the pain and making sure your friend knows his feelings are safe with you.

Step One
Acknowledge that something has happened. Specifically, your friend or relative has lost his wife. Express empathy and say to him, “I’m sorry for your loss.” Avoidance and brushing over the situation are common because people can feel unable to help or to express feelings appropriately.

Step Two
Offer to listen whenever he wants to talk. Look him straight in the eye when you say this. Repeat it so he understands that you’re serious and not just trying to have something to say.

Step Three
Call him and ask how he’s doing and if he needs anything. Then shut up and just listen. This is harder for some people to do as gaps in the conversation grow. But just wait in silence to allow him the space he needs to start talking.

Step Four
Ask him how he’s coping with his loss and if he’s incorporated any new habits, good or bad. If he hasn’t joined a support group, see if he’s interested in doing so, especially if any negative patterns are forming (e.g., drinking, drugs, promiscuity).

Step Five
Invite him out. Everyone deals with grief in their own terms. Some widowers become extremely active and others shut down. Some incorporate more people into their lives and some isolate. Keep inviting him and reminding him that you’re there, even if you’ve had six months of rejections. In time, he’ll hear what you’ve been saying.

Step Six
Talk about yourself in a normal way. It’s easy to think that you need to be there for someone and not talk about yourself at all. If you’ve offered your ear and your friend isn’t in the mood to talk about his feelings, it’s OK to continue to live your life and involve him as you normally would.

Tips & Warnings
Don’t suggest that the widower remarry or “get out there” at least for the first year.
He’s in his own grieving process. He’ll come to that point when he’s ready for it.

Find the above article at: http://www.ehow.com/how_2317473_talk-widower.html

(Tobie:) The following was originally intended for the widower, but can actually apply to anyone who has lost someone. I am not sure of the source as it was given to me in this form. I found it to be useful as did a few other widowers to whom I gave a copy.

FIND THE TIME to stay in touch with me in the weeks and months after the funeral is over. I will need your companionship and thoughtful concern. Don’t say, “Call me if you need me” for I’m not likely to do so. Please make it your business to “find the time” to contact me.

RESPOND to my needs. Let me know that you genuinely care for me and that you cared for my loved one. I feel many intense emotions and at times I feel angry. Do not take this personally. Never say to me “Don’t cry.” I need to cry. Tears are necessary for the grieving process. I’d rather you’d just hand me a tissue and sit with me.

ENCOURAGE ME, but don’t pity me. I don’t need pity but I do need someone to believe in me and reassure me.

LISTEN TO ME. Let me “talk it out,” even though I may go over and over the same things. This is my way of working through my grief. Don’t quote platitudes to me. Don’t tell me, “Time will heal.” I know that time will help but I’m not ready to think of the time when memories of my loved one will fade. Just listen without lecturing or advising me.

KEEP MY CONFIDENCES. To be able to work through my grief, I must be able to share some of what I am going through with someone I can trust. You are my friend and I place my trust in you. Please do not share my confidences to you with others. They might not understand.

INVOLVE ME WITH OTHERS. It is tough now that I’m alone. Encourage me to be active with others, but please don’t be a “match-maker.” Invite me along to do different activities, but also understand that I may relate differently to old friends now that I’m “solo.” And don’t be surprised if I start making new friends and experimenting with new “roles.”

BE SENSITIVE TO MY FEELINGS. Don’t say “How are you?” and go on by. Stop and listen. Please don’t say “I know how you feel.” My grief is my very own and no one can know exactly what I’m feeling. You can share my grief with me, but you can’t feel exactly what I’m feeling or think exactly what I think. I am the only one who can resolve my grief, and I can’t be pushed. So please use common sense and be sensitive to my feelings and needs.

SHARE YOUR FRIENDSHIP FREQUENTLY. Sometimes I feel isolated and some of my friends avoid me because they don’t know what to say. Don’t worry about that for I’ll lead the way. Keep in touch, please. Don’t smother me, but do continue sending notes and phoning, bringing food or inviting me out, and keeping me involved.

TELL ME about support groups and community resources that might be helpful to me.

REMEMBER that I grieve because I loved. Do not pretend that nothing has changed, for it has changed. I grieve not only for my loved one, but for the changes I’ve had to make in my life. Do not be afraid to share in my sorrow.

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