Loss of a loved one can be a triple whammy. There’s the excruciating void from the loss itself, but our ability to feel open, safe, and vulnerable also vanishes. We feel forever shattered, and the world seems cruel. We lose interest in everything or the opposite, carry on as if nothing significant happened.
Here are three suggestions to help someone move through a loss, according to Attitude Reconstruction:
- You need to listen and repeatedly, lovingly encourage them to talk about what they miss and what they appreciated most about the person. Even if they say “no thanks” keep softly offering. In order to heal, they need to talk.
Your job is just to provide a safe place — not give your “wisdom” or personal experiences. As the silent witness, respectfully keep extending your invitation. It often takes repeated respectful invitations. Be sure to genuinely listen and thank them for sharing.
Freedom comes from facing their loss and allowing themselves to feel their emotions – sadness, anger, and fear. At a neutral time, talk with them about this fact: emotions are just pure energy in the body.
Crying is healing because it’s the body’s natural reaction to hurts and losses. They can cry alone, with you, in therapy, or with a friend. Encourage them to say the “dreaded” G word — good-bye — to fully acknowledge the ending. This can be incredibly hard and usually brings up more sadness, but they must say “I miss you. I love you. Good-bye.”
If they feel more anxious that awful things will happen in the future, show them how to shake and shiver fear out of their bodies while saying, “Something greater than me is in charge. This is not in my control. Be here now.“
Anger can also be lurking because of how unfair this tragedy seems. Encourage them to find a constructive way to pound, push, shout, or stomp out the anger energy – hard, fast, and with abandon — where no one or nothing of value is destroyed. While moving the anger energy, they need to remind themselves that, “They are gone. That’s the way it is.”
- Whenever you feel they are sinking, spacing, and just going through the motions of living, encourage them to talk about the person some more and maybe take a few minutes to cry and say good-bye again.
It takes time to heal when we lose something or someone dear. By talking and emoting, they’ll find their energy gradually return. Gently but persistently don’t allow them to tell you that they are okay, when you know in your heart they aren’t.