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  • Writer's pictureSouvik Ghosh

Why grief hurts so much? – 25 ways to help someone coping with grief.

It has been a long time, actually, it's exactly 10 months since I published or wrote a blog post. Although, I would like to say I am sorry for this long absence, but honestly, it’s been a struggle to find something to write about. The last year and also this year has been a struggle not only for me but for so many closest to me, that everything felt almost meaningless.

I lost my Father on the 19th of January, 2021. You are always a little bit closer to one of your parents, it's the same for everyone, he was the one I was closest to. He was going through some rough health issues from July ’2020 but he was responding well to the treatments, so his passing away was a huge shock. It left me feeling completely shattered & drained but had to put up a brave face for my mother. For her, this was an earth-shattering loss.

As time passed I got into the daily grind again, but I could feel that I still had not processed the feelings completely, because it's very difficult to process grief. I sought professional help and although it helped, still, I know it will take a long time to come to terms with this loss.

Now when April and May rolled on, the devastation brought about by Covid (2nd wave) was too much to bear. Seeing, near and dear ones losing their battle with Covid, again started to take a toll on my mental health. Now when I saw the pain people were going through, I decided to write about my feelings and coping mechanisms, and even if it helps one person, it will have been worth the effort.

Now, let's talk about something not discussed enough. How to support someone in their grief.

Honest admission: I am certainly not an expert. I may be wrong in many ways, but these are my personal opinions based on my personal experiences and several sessions with counsellors. Sharing the basics, I learnt the hard way in the hope that it will help someone, anyone.

  1. Have you thought 100 times before messaging someone grieving the loss of a loved one? "Should I or should I not?" "Should I just pretend like I don't know" "How would they react?" "Is it too late now" "Am I saying something insensitive or in-genuine?" "Msg or call?"

  2. It's okay to be confused. It's okay to do either of those things. Don't be harsh on yourself. It's almost impossible to understand the pain / empathise with someone grieving a loss. It's easy to sympathise. Impossible to empathise unless you've experienced it closely yourself

  3. First & foremost advice is: Just send that message. Just make that call. Just let them know you're thinking of them and you're there. Be honest. Just knowing someone's there helps. So, if you think you are there for them, let them know. Your words mean a lot to them. Speak.

  4. If you knew the person who left or have a story around them - a memory - funny, smart, kind - any sweet memory - Please, just *please*, share it with their family. Don't keep a treasure with yourself and not share. That's selfish. Share.

  5. Human beings have so many dimensions to them - so many relationships - so many memories built over years that nobody knows. Nobody logs. These memories are literally all that is left of a person. And their family is not aware of a lot of stories. Memories give a lot of strength.

  6. Would advise steering clear of communicating negative memories though. Not sure of this myself but find myself agreeing to "Do not speak ill of the dead". Don't paint a negative picture unless there is a very clear and rational reason/outcome to justify it.

  7. Alright. So, we've established that you should just reach out and in case you knew the person lost, ALWAYS share memories of them. It ALWAYS gives strength to their family to know of the people impacted by their loved ones. :)

  8. Your brain will be like "The person barely knows me. I don't know what would they think" No. Stop thinking. Send.

  9. Your brain will be like "I don't know how would they react. How would I sound" No. Stop thinking – Send.

  10. Your brain will be like "It's too late now" No. Stop thinking. Send. If you have good intentions and you're honest, don't let your brain stop you. Cancel your 🧠, activate your ♥️ (😅)

  11. Your brain thinks all this. And it's okay. Only proves you care about them and you're human. But trust me, these are the last thoughts on the grieving person's mind. In fact, I would say, not even last. They are not judging you or doubting how sorry you are.

  12. Oftentimes, they may not pick up your call or reply. Don't take this as a negative sign that your message landed wrong or you need to back off. Try again to reach out. Drop-in a note. Don't expect them to reply. It's okay. Sometimes, they may just not want to talk/reply.

  13. Try to steer clear of trying to find reasons behind a loss. Again, you're coming from a very kind and caring place, but the reasons are all lost now. Its white noise to the grieving. Reason Eg 'Maybe a different hospital/doctor would have helped' 'Maybe should have done x,y,z'

  14. High chances these thoughts are already in their minds. In fact, they probably have questioned every decision, every choice they have made in their lives so far including "going for a trek 15 years back and not spending those 7 days with the lost loved one". Don't amplify.

  15. Listen if they're talking to you. Don't have to talk back. Don't have to console by words. Don't have to say something to diffuse their pain by hook or by crook. Just listening with a good ♥️ is more than enough at times. Your listening is more helpful than you can imagine

  16. Let them be. If they feel like crying, let them cry. If they feel like joking, let them joke. If they feel like sharing memories with you, let them share. Let them grieve in their own way. There is absolutely no "correct" way to grieve.

  17. If they want to talk about the person lost, let them talk about the person lost. In fact, talking about the person lost should be encouraged. Loss is big. Enable an environment where they can just do what they feel like doing without thinking of judgements or repercussions

  18. If your *very* close family or friend is going through a loss, if possible, meet them in real life - in whatever setting they are comfortable with. Don't make them put the effort to travel somewhere to meet you if they don't want to. You go the extra mile. Give them a hug.

  19. If possible, take care of them, especially if it's a very recent loss. By taking care, I mean, try to ensure they are sleeping and eating okay without being too overbearing. Suggest some expert/therapist if you think they need and let them decide.

  20. Big truths about loss that is lost on people, in general - It's not always better with time. A close loss can still make people have random sadness outbursts and cry days (privately or publicly) - days, months, years, decades after the loss.

  21. Every loss is different & unique in itself. There is so much depth to a relationship & memories that it's not justified to comment/compare the magnitude of loss.

  22. No, you don't get to say how sad X person should feel about a loss of a distant relative.

  23. No, u don't get to say I know *exactly* how u feel cos I have faced the same loss. Sure, you may understand the pain & sympathise but a loss can seldom be empathised with.

  24. 'How are you' once in a while is not the best way cos probably, they're not good but still one of the better ways. :)

  25. Loss is a lot of paperwork and figuring out unknowns in terms of everything. It's difficult. Help if you can. Don't consume the other person too much by forcing them to talk. Don't expect a lot from them. Let them be. Let them take their time.

Also, linking one of the better articles I have read on how to cope with one’s grief and also help people in coping with their own personal losses -

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Souvik Mukherjee
Souvik Mukherjee
Jul 12, 2021

Well written...

Referring to an article which I read when i was really down.although grief is unique but do give it a read:

Souvik Ghosh
Souvik Ghosh
Jul 12, 2021
Replying to

Will do👍

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