Grief is an inescapable part of the human experience.
In the United States, for instance, 8 million people experience the trauma of losing a loved one every year. Of course, any contact with death can cause immeasurable suffering.
However, nobody grieves harder than a mother after the death of their child.
After all, the bond between infant and mother is a profound and ineffable life wonder. To have it severed prematurely inevitably begets untold heartbreak.
Effective grief support can make a crucial difference.
Alas, supporting anyone in the throes of their sorrow is never an easy task; when the pain is as pronounced as it can be for a grieving mother, it can be hard to know where to even begin.
Thankfully, there are some simple steps anyone can take to help. Are you interested in learning more?
Read on for 7 tips for better supporting grieving mothers.
Death is a scary prospect.
In the west, in particular, it’s a fact of life we prefer to sweep under the rug.
The result is that we very rarely feel comfortable talking about it.
It’s tempting to take the same approach with anybody during grief. Unsure how to ‘do the right thing,’ and unable to confront the pain, many people distance themselves.
But few things are as lonely as grief.
Don’t shy away from a grieving mother. Don’t pretend that it’s all okay. Don’t avoid having deep and stark conversations about pain and suffering.
Instead, be there for her.
Show up. Continue to be a part of their life, offering a supportive shoulder to cry on whenever they need it.
Some people feel awkward about having serious conversations, especially about subjects like death.
Many people struggle to express themselves when people are in emotional pain. They mutter inane clichés like ‘it’ll be okay,’ or ‘they’re in a better place now.’
Know that there’s no right or wrong way to support a grieving mother; it’s far better to be present and say ‘the wrong thing’ that to be absent.
However, try to remain as genuine as possible. If you’re struggling for words, then consider expressing that instead of reverting to the clichés above. Sometimes silence is better.
Likewise, remember that nothing you say could ever fix their pain.
It’s your presence and willingness to listen that will make the most difference.
Lend an Ear
You need to listen.
Moreover, you need to express that you’re willing and available to listen whenever they need to talk. There’s no pressure, but you’re ready to be their sounding board if it would help.
Lending an ear to someone in their time of need is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal.
A problem shared is a problem halved, right? Well, the loss of a child causes immeasurable pain; talking about it will never solve this problem.
It might, however, act as a temporary salve. It’s hard to overstate the value of expressing your pain to somebody you trust. Assuming that role is arguably the most important thing you can do.
Forget the Advice
These aren’t ordinary conversations, though.
This isn’t a friend coming to you for practical support. As such, there’s no room or need for advice.
Anything you recommend is a projection of your own personal thoughts and feelings. You might assume it’s in the mother’s interest. However, there’s no way to know if it’ll actually help them.
In the throes of untold sorrow, getting advice is unlikely to go down well. Again, there’s no quick fix to this situation. Forget the advice and try just to listen instead, offering words of empathy and comfort when it feels appropriate.
Listening to someone’s anguish isn’t easy.
That’s particularly true when you’ve been impacted by the loss as well. After all, death is never easy for anyone to deal with!
It’s entirely human for people in supportive roles to feel their own grief, sorrow, and emotional pain.
Occasionally, being genuine and present with a grieving mother will call for you to express your suffering with them. You’ll cry together and feel better for it.
However, try hard to limit your own tears in their company. Often, grieving people find themselves comforting the people who’ve come to express their condolences!
Of course, it should be the other way around.
Stay strong as much as you possibly can. Your strength will be of incredible support.
Look after yourself, though.
This situation will take its toll on you as well. You’ll be shouldering immense pain in the interest of your friend or family member. Listening to anyone suffering from deep heartache is hard going.
When it’s coming from somebody you care about, and it’s going on for a long time, it’s bound to impact you even further.
Do what you can to practice self-care. Do things that bring you joy, eat well, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep.
Grief is all-consuming.
Levels of joy and motivation are exhausted by the toll it takes.
Once-held priorities take a back seat; basic tasks like cleaning, cooking, and bathing become a challenge. That’s where you can come in.
Practical support from friends and family can be a vital lifeline. Having somebody offer to cook dinner, clean your house, babysit the kids, or take on any level of responsibility is an enormous help.
The exact support required will depend on the situation. In specific cases, you could offer to help with legal proceedings (such as going to the law office), organizing funeral arrangements, supporting with childcare, and so on.
Time to Provide Better Grief Support
Grieving for somebody you love is one of the most painful experiences imaginable.
And no-one feels the pain of separation more than a mother suffering the loss of a child.
Knowing the best way to offer grief support in these situations is key to helping them. Hopefully, this post will enable you to provide the support you’d like to in these unenviable situations.
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