Talking to your Bereaved Friend About Death

You’ve heard the saying; the only thing certain is death and taxes. Western society, however, seems to think that death is “optional,” and thus we act accordingly. We ignore this possibility of death and certainly do not want to be reminded of our mortality.

Of course, most of us are deeply afraid of death. In turn, western society does not want anything to do with loss. Thus, we give “buck up” messages to the bereaved, which makes it difficult for them to openly mourn and ask for help. Because of this subtle pressure, the bereaved may feel they have no choice, but to “grin and bear it” or “go it alone.” Unfortunately, this does not aid healing and leaves the bereaved confused and bewildered by lack of support.

When death is a taboo subject, it makes things harder for your bereaved friend. According to Dr. Alan Wolfelt:

When a person is not allowed to feel a feeling, he or she becomes closed in the ability to use the painful emotion to become changed by it. Instead, the person becomes stuck, and grief can become more difficult. When one denies, inhibits or defends against emotions, the pain will last longer.

Thus, what can you do? Continue to do what you are doing, and allow and encourage your friend to freely express emotions. Help the person you care about gently “befriend” grief, so he or she can work through it. Educate others that the reality of loss cannot be denied, but instead, should be accepted. Acknowledging another’s pain in grief is one of the most helpful actions that can be taken.

In appreciation of you,

Tip: If you hear the person you care about, saying “I think it will be easier if_____”, this is a red flag that he or she may be avoiding a necessary part of grieving. In order to find some relief, the bereaved need to work through grief, rather than repress it or go around it. Feelings have one ambition and that is to be felt.

Please visit www.withsympathygifts/blog for more helpful tips.