Loss of a Loved One - Ways to Comfort the Bereaved
Loss of a Loved One
The loss of a loved one is surely one of life’s most difficult experiences. If a person is losing a loved one to some horrid disease, it is an extremely emotional time. The grief of the impending loss is often overwhelming and no one really has the right words to make that person feel better. It is especially difficult when that loved one is dying of a painful disease, like cancer. The bereaved are struggling with fear, intense emotions, depression, anger and sometime guilt.
Death of a Spouse
I was in the grocery story today and two men were checking out right next to me. They had some beautiful bouquets of flowers. As I never seem to meet a strange, I said to them, “Those beautiful flowers are going to make someone very happy.” One of the men looked at me with immense sadness on his face and said “This is my 36th wedding anniversary and it’s too bad she won’t be able to see these.”
My heart sank as I scrambled, trying to think of something appropriate to say. “I’m so sorry for your loss.” I paused and said, “There are no words I can think of to say that will help you.” He said, “She has not died yet, but it will be soon. She won’t open her eyes again and we’ve been married for 36 years,” he repeated. Again I said, “I am so sorry. God bless you.” He just nodded his head as the men walked away with the flowers.
I have thought about this encounter a lot today. I cannot think of anything else that I could have said, but I felt such empathy for him. I felt helpless as I could not help in any way. When I got in my car I prayed for him, his wife and their family. Then, it occurred to me how grateful I am for my family.
Loss of Friend – Stages of Grief
Then, the previous Saturday I attended a funeral for a friend I had known for 30 years. She had lung disease secondary to rheumatoid arthritis. She had an emergency surgery and her lungs just were not strong enough to allow recovery. Her husband of 24 years is devastated, and I know him quite well, so talking with him was a bit easier than it was with the stranger.
We laughed and we cried as we recalled numerous events that happened through the years. I could see him going through the common stages of grief that we have heard so many times; denial, anger; bargaining, depression; acceptance written about extensively by Kublar Ross.
Proper Way to Grieve
There is certainly no wrong or right way to grieve. It is an individual experience. Even knowing the stages of grief, people do not necessarily follow a specific order and often go back and forth between the stages until they have reached acceptance. There is no timetable and sometimes the best thing we can do as relatives or friends is to just listen.
What is the best thing to say to someone when they have lost a loved one? Most importantly, be genuine in your communication. Speak from your heart. You might say, “I’m not sure what to say, but I want you to know I am here for you.” You can also offer support my asking them if there is any way you can help. If you are just seeing this person for the first time, say something like, “I am so sorry to hear that Frank died.” Then ask them how they are feeling. Communicating your sympathy sincerely is appreciated by the bereaved individual. Listening is important, so let them tell you how their loved one died. They may repeat some stories over again as they work through their grief.
We all have our ideas of what happens when a person dies, but do not say, “This is all part of God’s plan.” They may not feel that way. Avoid any statement that tells them what to do, so do not use sentences that start with “You should.” Do not ever say “I know how you feel.” Even if you have lost a loved one, you cannot assume you know how another person feels. Offer comfort and reassurance.
Dying of Cancer - songs dealing with death,loss, grief
Elton John – Candle In The Wind
John Gillespie Magee, Jr. Poem
These are a couple of the lines from a poem that touch my heart:
“Oh I have slipped
the surly bonds of Earth….
Put out my hand,
and touched the face of God.”
What a beautiful transition to death.
For me personally, I am not afraid to die. I have had a good life and I believe I will see God and all those who passed on before me. The Bible tells me there are no more tears and no more pain, which makes perfect sense since you do longer have a physical body. I like to think of death as my spirit simply moving from the physical world to the spiritual one as simply as walking through a door. I love the poem by John Gillespie Magee, Jr. He was a WWII Canadian pilot who wrote a beautiful poem, which has nothing to do with death, however, this is my vision of leaving this life and moving on to my spiritual life. I do not want a funeral, but a celebration of my life is what I desire.
© 2012 Pamela Oglesby