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Loss and Grief

There Are Many Reasons Why We Grieve

  • We grieve because we have loved.
  • We grieve because something significant in our life has been taken from us.
  • We grieve because someone that we were attached to is gone.
  • We grieve because unwelcome changes have disrupted our life.
  • We grieve because our hopes, plans and dreams have not worked out.

And it hurts.

Whilst there are some general patterns common to grieving people, each person’s experience is unique. The initial shock, disbelief, numbness and sense of being ‘on auto pilot’ is often how grieving begins and is naturally heightened when death is sudden and unexpected.

Grief affects our feelings, the way we think and behave, and it can adversely affect our health and wellness. It’s normal, natural and necessary for us to grieve. Even though we may try to hide it, or pretend we are alright, grief can’t really be avoided. The only cure for grief is to let yourself do your grieving.

Helping Grieving People

Helping grieving people is not about finding ways to take their grief away.

Your role is not to:

  • Fix their grief
  • Stop them from talking about it
  • Keep their mind off it
  • Encourage them to be ‘strong and brave’
  • Stop them from crying

Helping a Grieving Friend

If you want to help a grieving friend, an important place to start is to arm yourself with good information about grief. This will help you to truly understand why they are thinking, feeling and behaving the way they are.

You don’t have to say something to take their grief away. So many of the common clichés we hear are best to be avoided. Try not to say:

  • “Time will heal.”
  • “You’re strong, you’ll get over it.”
  • “Be brave, don’t cry.”

The power of just listening to your friend tell their story can’t be overemphasised. Most grieving people will be alright about telling you what happened and how they’re coping, even if they cry or are angry or feeling overwhelmed by it all. Being able to tell someone who just listens can be a real relief.

Grief Doesn’t Go Away Quickly

It’s important to remember to keep an eye on your friend over time. Be patient with them. Remember them on special days like birthdays, Christmas time, anniversaries and family occasions when they may really be missing their loved one. Include them in invitations for social activities – but be aware that it will be hard to go out and do the things they used to do when their family was complete.

Grieving Can Be a Lonely Experience

Don’t underestimate how helpful you can be just by staying in touch and asking how your friend is coping.

Remember, you don’t have to fix their grief or say something cheerful. Imagine your role as being someone who allows the grief to be aired, explored, explained, so that it doesn’t stay locked up inside because everyone is uncomfortable with it. If you can do this, you will be truly helpful.

QPS have support services available to you –