Support

To become bereaved – to lose the love and companionship of a life partner or someone equally precious – can be painful beyond words.

And it’s not a time to try to just soldier on by yourself.

Today there is excellent help available, both for bereaved people and for those wanting to support them.

  • Be willing to receive help

    That great British stiff upper lip can even come into play when someone is bereaved. But this is not what we need or how we were made.

    Humankind are meant to be carers and supporters of each other. In the same way that you would reach out to someone in pain after their loss of a loved one, it is time to allow others to do this to you.

    Of course, you will have times of wanting your own space and to do things your way. But you also need to accept the care others offer.

  • Share in the experiences of others

    Just hearing the stories and experiences of others making the same journey as you can be invaluable. For a start, it assures you that you are not alone or unique.

    One way is to join the online community of the Sue Ryder foundation. You don’t even have to say anything if you’d rather just read the experiences of others.

  • Where help can be found

    It is good news that there are many individuals, groups and organisations ready to help you understand what you are going through and to give support that’s appropriate to you.

    Your church: A simple first step would be for you or someone on your behalf to ask your church leader to point you in the right direction. It is information they will have at their fingertips.

    More than that, church leaders and their staff will have had training and even their own experience of grief. Both will enable them to share comfort, insight and prayerful support. So don’t hesitate to ask them for help as this is why they are there.

    Support groups: Most local authorities, and many churches, have groups that offer support. And Cruse Bereavement Care has an online directory of local groups listed both by region and alphabetically.

    Among the many organisations out there offering wise bereavement support are those associated with the specific reason for the death that has happened – be it cancer, heart disease, a road traffic accident or something else.

    For example, The Loss Foundation provides free support groups for those who have lost their loved ones to cancer.

  • Professional help

    Such can be the impact of bereavement that often something more is needed than good advice, a listening ear and some practical support. This is especially true when the emotional pain leads to depression – with its symptoms including deep on-going grief, insomnia, panic attacks, tiredness and the like.

    Your GP: This is the first step when things get tough. They know what can help you through in the short term, until you have passed through the stages of grief. It is not a sign of weakness to go to them. And you need to do exactly what they say.

    Bereavement counselling: Your GP may recommend, or you may seek, the help of a professional grief counsellor. If going it alone, your church leader may be able to recommend. Otherwise a simple Google search will identify a bereavement counsellor in your area.

  • A Christian perspective

    During the times of deepest distress it may be of little help or comfort to be reminded of God’s love and the perspective that Jesus brings to death. But hopefully there will come a time that this becomes part of the story.

    In particular, is the fact that it is love that makes death so awful. It is the fact that we truly love someone that creates the grief when they leave us. But it is also love that makes death bearable’

    Jesus was himself a mourner following the death of his close friend. Like any one of us, he also wept. But it is also through Jesus that Christians hold the hope that death is not the end.

  • The help you can hope for

    If you are struggling to receive the help and support you need, print this off and leave it in a prominent place. It is advice from Cruse Bereavement Care, probably the leading charity in this field.

    Do:

    • Be there for the one grieving – pick up the phone, write a letter or an email, call by or arrange to visit.
    • Accept that everyone grieves in their own way, there is no ‘normal’ way.
    • Encourage the person to talk and listen in depth when they do
    • Create an environment where the bereaved person can be themselves and show their feelings, rather than having to put on a front.
    • Be aware that grief can take a long time.
    • Contact the person at difficult times such as special anniversaries and birthdays.
    • Mention useful support agencies such as Cruse Bereavement Care.
    • Offer useful practical help.

    Don’t:

    • Avoid someone who has been bereaved.
    • Use clichés such as ‘I understand how you feel’; ‘You’ll get over it; ‘Time heals’.
    • Ask them how you can help – just provide it.
    • Tell them it’s time to move on, they should be over it – how long a person needs to grieve is entirely individual.
    • Be alarmed if the bereaved person doesn’t want to talk or demonstrates anger.
    • Underestimate how emotionally draining it can be when supporting a grieving person. Make sure you take care of yourself too.

The word retirement is not even in the Bible. What is taught in scripture is transition. There is nothing that says you work most of your life and then get to be selfish for the next 20 years

Rick Warren, PurposeDrivenLife