Grief is such a complex and interesting emotion that treats everyone so different. It even is an emotion that can be detected and exhibited in the animal kingdom.
For example, in the elephant herd, if a member of it’s family passes the herd will spend days touching the deceased’s body, trumpeting and expressing sorrow. After a few days the herd will continue to travel, butdocumentaries show that when the herd passes through again, they can still identify their lost family member’s bones through touch, scent, and taste. They will use their trunks to touch and caress the bones of the elephant and can sometimes be heard rumbling or chirping in recognition of whose bones they are.
Throughout history, we have seen many ways in which various cultures express grief. Some through a set number of days in which family members and/or friends wear black, having funeral processions with wailing and villages involved in walking the casket from the point of celebration to where a community member is laid to rest.
But as the years passed on some societal norms became irrelevant and outdated, where nowadays it seems that people have a kerfuffle when trying to help console someone who has experienced loss or how to address grief. For yourself or for others. We as a society have forgotten how to mourn, how to help others express their grief, and how to show support towards a family or community who have experienced loss.
Here we broke down some ways to help if you don’t know what to do or say to someone who is experiencing grief:
What to Say
There are never the right words to say when losing someone, expected or unexpectedly. You want to show your support, share your condolences, and love, but how do you say it?
Phrases such as, “We’re praying for you” or “We are so sorry for your loss, is there anything we can do?” have great intentions, unintentionally recipients of this message may feel like it is ingenuine or feel that their sorrow is being reopened like a sore with little assistance in healing.
Using genuine comments that show love and affection for the individuals affected while expressing our own sorrow for their loss is a tough ledge to toe on.
So we’ve asked our Instagram followers what types of messages they received during their grief that they found most helpful. We were astonished with the plethora of messages from our Instagram followers, and decided to share what was were some of the most meaningful messages to them when they experienced grief:
“I’m here however you need to process right now”
“Thinking about you today”
“Sending you so much love”
“It’s okay to feel your feelings with me”
“I’m so sorry for your loss”
What to Do
Being on the receiving end of endless amounts of texts that express condolences, people can feel disingenuine with the flood of messages that say, “Let me know what I can do” or “We’re thinking of you”. While all good thoughts and good intentions, as the saying goes, “Actions speak louder than words”.
You might have asked them a million times if there’s anything you can do and they’ve probably given you the same answer over and over of “oh we’re okay thanks” or “Nope! We’re good, thank you though”. When really, they really do want/need help but either don’t know how to accept/ask for help or feel embarrassed to feel dependent on others.
It can be helpful to just go ahead and DO SOMETHING.
For those far away:
- Send a meal to their door via food delivery
- Venmo with the caption “Dinner on me”.
If your close enough to put action to words:
- Get their groceries
- Do their dishes
- A few loads of laundry,
- Offer to walk their dogs,
- Take the kids out to a fun activity to give parents much needed time for themselves
- Coming over (if they’re accepting people over) and lending a listening ear and shoulder to cry on.
All of these may seem little but when experiencing grief sometimes even the littlest of tasks can seem like a mountain they have to climb. Every little thing counts and doesn’t go unnoticed.
What to Give
Too far away to enact a plan of action to help a loved one? Giving items that relay the love you have for them may just be the perfect way to express your support, even if you’re miles and miles away.Brightbox created a box that does just that. Grief is an experience box that can help encourage recipients to take the time to wind-down and relax during their night-time routine. While it’s filled with lots of sweet little goodies, the real message we want recipients to feel is that they are loved, remembered, supported,and that they are neveralone. It’s more than just a box, it’s a cardboard hug, from a friend, from a family member, from us to you. We know we can never replace those sweet intimate moments in person, but want to put our best foot forward in connecting with each of you.
Other things that are sure to let someone know you’re thinking about them:
- A weighted blanket
- Food Delivery Gift Card
- Personalized jewelry
- Books you think they’d like
- Something snuggly to hug
- Sweatshirt or other comfy clothing combo
What to Read
Want to learn more about grief and be an informed friend? There is a myriad of information from articles on Google, books from Amazon or your local library, or social media communities and influencers who share a wealth of knowledge. Here are some of our favorite articles, influencers, books, or authors that we found to be helpful in our own experiences:
- Keira Wilcox (@keirabwilcox)
- Terah Belle (@terahbelle)
- Molly Burke-Mattocks (@letters_on_living_after_loss)
- Please Be Patient, I’m Grieving: How to care for and support the grieving heart, Gary Roe
- A Grief Observed, C S Lewis
- It's OK That You're Not OK, Megan Devine.
- Box in the Ball Analogy
- Grief Comes in Waves Poem
*These resources are just that, resources for learning. If you have any questions or comments be sure to get in contact with a licensed physician, psychiatrist or therapist who are qualified to help you understand or discuss further about grief*
Understand that you do not need to fix their grief or try to set a timeline for them to heal. But BE THERE. Be their friend. Be a listener. They might have told you the same stories over and over but by BEING THERE and LISTENING, you are becoming an integral part of their healing process. That being said though, grief isn’t something that is a one-and-done emotion. It’s one that may continue to be a part of someone’s life months, even years later. By acknowledging and validating their feelings individuals who are suffering loss are able to recognize their own feelings and work through them in a safe manner.
Everyone experiences grief differently, just this year my husband lost his eldest brother unexpectedly. For us, grief was me crying at random and having no desire to cook (which is my favorite creative outlet) and for him it was having a lack of motivation to do his work or schooling and not wanting to be around people (though he is the most motivated person I know and a total social butterfly). Needless to say, we appreciated the people in our lives who acknowledged that they knew they couldn’t fix our feelings or repair the past, but still offered their support and love and gave us the supportwe needed. That support looked like text messages or calls checking up on us, others it looked like giving us space to be with each other to grieve, and others it was just knowing we could ask them for help when we were ready for it.
It is never easy when we lose someone near and dear to our heart. We know it’s cliche, but know that you are never alone in your feelings. They are valid, they are unique to you, and there is no way we can ever express our sadness for the pain you feel. But each of you are amazing people, and we are so lucky to have the opportunity to connect with each of you.
Stay safe and Be Kind Bright Squad!
The Brightbox Team