Loss can take the form of a pet, a relationship, a health crisis, a job. Caring for a loved one is tough. As a supporter, you want to help your loved ones get through their loss.
Here are some strategies supporters can use to help the people who are suffering:
Bring back Normalcy: Make sure the person is living their life with as much normalcy as possible- reestablish this sense of normalcy as soon as possible
Engage them in their Community: Pull them out of isolation and back into the community eg – call them, check on them, take them out
Lessen any Stigma they may be feeling: They may be beating themselves up as to why they not getting over their loss. Reassure them that they can take their time- there is no timeline for this. There is no need to rush ‘getting over’ anything. Suggest to them if they need any professional help and if they agree, go ahead and help them find the right support. Lessening the stigma and making it as universal as possible
Offer your Help:
Pre-funeral help: Before the service, you can help with logistical things – help lift the sense of burden and overwhelm they may be feeling ( do u want me to drive family members? ) letting them know you are there for them and keep checking on them.
After-Funeral help: You need to be patient when dealing with your friend or loved one. Stay connected and keep some sense of community for them to prevent them from isolating too much. Make regular check-ins with them and accept the fact that there will be times when they need to be alone and need their own space. However, keep checking on them from time to time ( you don’t have to talk about the loss – just have a normal conversation)
Should you share your loss or pain if any? Just tell them about your life as is- you don’t have to avoid anything and treat them with kiddy gloves. It will actually help them to help you too. It will help them to take on a problem-solving role (to think about others) Helping others helps one pull oneself out of one’s own depression.
Be Wary of Supporter Abuse: some may take advantage of you. You are there when you can be there. Set your own boundaries and take the rest when you need to too.
Don’t treat grievers with kiddy gloves having to hang around them 24/7.
Key tips to avoid Supporter Burnout:
– Know it’s not your Fault if they not getting better- don’t get frustrated – it’s not up to you. Allow the fact that they may be doing well one minute and not so good another…
– Don’t feel guilty- if the person is not getting better..try and find out if it is a clinical issue? Evaluate this for yourself if you can or get some help. Help them to refocus and find meaning and purpose in their life.
– Remember to take time for yourself and your own Self-Care- you can go away for a bit and get back – establish yourself boundaries and stick to them- reach out to others to help you with the griever
– Check-in on your own emotions- you have to allow yourself to have time for your own emotions. Make some concrete boundaries eg- I won’t pick up the phone after 10 pm or I will only spend one hour a day. Write it down
– If you dealing with someone who has gone into depression ( major depressive disorder) – you get them the right help. Volunteer to go with them if needed and wait in the waiting room or even in the session if they need you a to-a bit of hand-holding will help them through.
When all else fails , ask them “What can I do? what’s the one thing I can take off your list today; I’ll do it for you” ( mundane things like going shopping to the supermarket for them will help when someone is feeling overwhelmed)
Even just coming with that intention will help. But remember that supporters need to take a dose of their own medicine and know that you may need support too.