People can be very supportive in the first few days after a death. There are many things they can do:
- assist in funeral preparations,
- inform other friends and family about the death
- and take care of daily chores.
In this way, they support their friends by taking on the necessary tasks so that the survivors have the time and energy to mourn their loss.
Unfortunately, once the funeral is over, things can dramatically change. This support system can be quickly dissolved as people return to their everyday routines.
How to really help someone who is grieving?
Don't disappear from their lives. It’s true that most acquaintances will certainly get lost after the funeral, a good friend though will not stay away for a long time, instead they will keep in touch to check the condition of the mourners. It can be very difficult to support someone during this period.
Under no circumstances should you impose a limit on the time they mourn, the only limitations you can set have to do with the negative behaviors you may see.
- Does your friend use alcohol or drugs to manage his emotions?
- Is he experiencing any eating disorder?
- Does he choose to isolate himself from the wider world?
These are all warning signs.
If you think their grief has overwhelmed them and is leading them to a self-destructive course, it may be time to suggest that they consult a psychologist.
Other important things you can do to help them successfully adjust to their loss:
• Attending their loved one's funeral is just the first step in accepting the reality of the loss. It is important to accompany them on a visit to their loved one's grave to leave flowers or to just spend some time in discussion and reflection, continues the process of acceptance. Never force them to go, just suggest it and then support them when they agree with your proposal.
• Compassionate listening - listening not only with your ears but also through your heart. This is a very important step that helps them to deal with the pain of grief. Be willing to listen to them and be patient with them.
• They need to learn to function in this new world without their loved one. Practical assistance may be needed from you in this part: help them pay the bills, assist with grocery shopping or offer your support while they are learning or even relearning how to do something.
• The mourners must rediscover themselves while at the same time processing any changes in their beliefs, values and assumptions about the world. Once again, compassionate listening without criticism gives them a safe space to process these important changes in their world view.
• Help them find a suitable place in their emotional life for the deceased: "a place that is important but leaves room for others" and "a place that will allow them to continue living effectively in the world". It is suggested that they envision what they would want for themselves if their grief was magically vanished.
In dealing with the loss of a loved one, it's best to be there, even if you don't know what to say, just having someone close to you is very comforting.
Other simple tips include:
• Ask them how they feel and listen to the answer. Don't assume that you know how they feel on a given day.
• Listen and support them, but don't try to force someone if they aren't ready to talk.
• Accept the person's feelings. Even if you can't imagine how they feel, never tell them how they should or shouldn't feel.
• Reassure them without underestimating the loss. Try to empathize with the person without assuming you know how they feel.
As an ally of your beloved friend or family member, you have to cultivate patience and willingness to wait.
You need to be watchful for depressive signs, which may include constant thoughts of unworthiness or despair, inability to perform daily activities, feelings of intense guilt, extreme weight loss, and thoughts of death or suicide.
If these symptoms persist for more than 2 months after the loss, the mourner may need to seek professional help.
If the person tries to harm themselves or is planning to do so, then they need help immediately.
At Gesios Funeral Home, we provide experienced psychological support staff for our customers.
For further assistance, do not hesitate to contact us by phone at +30 2310 41 99 99 or even visit us at one of our offices in Thessaloniki.
Urban Non-Profit Company
Frangon 13, Tel. contact +30 2310 510010
The MERIMNA Counseling Center in Thessaloniki provides psychological support to children, adolescents and their families when a loved one is ill or has died. This psychological support is completely free. Families with children up to 18 years of age can seek support, if someone of their family members are seriously ill or have died. At the same time, they inform and raise awareness of the public about issues related to serious illnesses, death and mourning of children and adolescents. More information can be found at www.merimna.org.gr .
- Gelsini Zoi, Psychologist
Panagouli 2, PC 412 22, Larissa.
Tel. +30 2410 535018, Mob.: + 30 6943 998047
- Papamichael Panagiota, Clinical Psychologist. Systemic psychotherapy for individuals, couples, families
Certified Drug Addiction Advisor (ICRC)
Painting 80, Piraeus, Athens.
Mob.: + 30 6973680066