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mw editorial

lean on me: how to support a loved one’s loss

April 6, 2021

We all do the best we can to navigate life’s ups and downs, and there’s no better way to get through than with the help of a loving support system. That’s why it’s so important to show up for our loved ones when they are experiencing loss or pain. It can be difficult to know the right way to support someone because each individual processes grief differently. Here are some tips to help you become a better pillar of support for the people in your life who may be struggling.


Sometimes the best thing you can do for the grieving is to simply be with them in the moment. Your physical presence will be a reassuring affirmation of your support without the need for any words. Let yourself listen to them in nonjudgmental silence if they feel the need to vent their emotions, and resist the urge to brush away or minimize their pain. If the situation is appropriate, lend physical affection in the form of a sympathetic touch or embrace.


Let your loved one know that you are thinking of them often, even if it’s in the form of a quick text. When you take the time to let someone know they are on your mind, you are demonstrating your loyalty and willingness to stick around. Your efforts to include them will be appreciated, even if they struggle to respond.


In some instances, grief can overwhelm someone to the point of affecting their ability to handle everyday tasks like cooking and cleaning. A practical way to support them is to offer assistance with meal prepping or other chores. Reducing stress by removing the burden of certain responsibilities is a valuable way to show your support.


When things get tough, a light-hearted distraction can be most welcome. Help your loved one escape their inner turmoil by inviting them to join you for a fun adventure like an outing to a new place or a night in watching a movie.


If your loved one seems unaffected by offers of support or positive words, they may just need some time alone. Grief has no set timetable, and it might be a while before they are ready to accept help. Respect their grieving process, even if their coping mechanisms don’t always make sense to you. Healing will happen in time, so let them know that you’ve got their back and then back off.

Ultimately, there’s no single solution for soothing the pains of our friends and family. Whether they are grieving a death, surviving a break-up, or lamenting some other kind of loss, use your best judgment to gauge what kind of support they may need. Offer it willingly and with love. Letting them know they can lean on you will make all the difference.


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