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Understanding Grief Language

Grief has a language easiest to understand by the bereaved. Sometimes supporting a person on this journey may feel confusing and the language difficult to follow especially if you haven’t experienced a certain magnitude of death yourself.

It’s ok if the language feels unfamiliar, the principles are simple - words aren’t nearly as important as consistency and presence. Your person grieving is at a loss for words and their reality shaken. This adjustment is emotional, mental, spiritual, and relational therefore needs considerable time. There is no definable timetable - each person’s loss story, culture, values, and relationship are unique.

For example, losing a husband of 50 years (that’s half a century), can’t be adjusted to in a month or a few years. One moment one day at a time is the only way through - the same holds true for supporting them. Think of it this way you’re not leading the journey. You are not carrying the burden, you’re sitting w/them through it. It’s not a constant task but a conscientious consistent one.

Your loved one may not be able to explain or share how they are feeling - the mind and heart take time to get on the same page. Staying away can feel like abandonment to the person grieving - a consistent visit, FaceTime can be just what’s needed. Instead of asking them what they need or saying call me if you need me, offer to do something needing to be done. It can be as small as stacking the dishes or as quiet as sitting together on the porch.

Be gentle with yourself as support, you’re not expected to carry the weight of their loss (that’s impossible) just fill the atmosphere with consistent love, presence, patience, and comfort.


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