As time passes

Apr 20, 20
As time passes

Most people experience a sense of shock when they are first bereaved. It is difficult to absorb what has happened. Grief may begin with thoughts such as ‘I can’t believe she’s dead’, ‘it all feels like a bad dream’. This numbing sense of shock and disbelief can last days, weeks, or months.

Your friend may appear to be coping well as life goes on, but for many bereaved people it is in the months after the death that the full force of what has happened begins to hit them. Everyday tasks from working and parenting to shopping and paying bills become very difficult. This seems to coincide with a time when people who were very supportive at the time of the death stop calling. While friends and neighbours resume their normal lives, bereaved people are facing months and years of reminders of their loss and adjustments they need to make.
Here are some tips for helping a bereaved person as time goes by:

  • Don’t assume they are ‘over it’ or have enough help. If you are unsure how to help, just ask.
  • Don’t avoid mentioning the person who has died. Most bereaved people welcome the chance to talk. You do not lessen grief by avoiding the subject.
  • Don’t offer advice on how they should feel, act, or get on with their lives. Allow them space to make their own decisions.
  • Try not to make vague offers of help like ‘call me if you need anything’. Bereaved people may find it hard to reach out and ask for help. Make specific offers of help – cook dinner, cut the grass, go for a walk with them, etc.
  • Don’t feel offended if they refuse your offer of help or turn to someone else for comfort.
  • Try to remember special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries.
  • Finally, mind yourself. Supporting a bereaved person is hard work. Know your own limits and only offer to do what you can reasonably do.