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As humans we all deal with death and the loss of loved ones. If you haven't, you will, and chances are someone you know already has. None of us ever really know what to say when it happens and to the find the answers to the questions of grieving souls is nearly impossible. What do you say to a shattered heart to glue it back together? If you're currently struggling with this or perhaps just don't know how to help out a friend, here are six things you should know that will help you out.
1. Words mean a lot.
Whether it's a simple "my condolences" or a heartfelt speech about the deceased, any kind words help. Just because someone else said something similar does not make yours less important to that person. When you're dealing with a death in your circle, it helps to be reminded how many amazing people you still have in your life, so if you're second guessing sending that message or offering your sympathy, don't. They need it.
2. "Are you OK?"
"Are you OK?" The infamous question that radiates redundancy and almost never has a real answer. Don't be afraid to ask, but know that the response you get is based entirely on what they're feeling in that moment. If you get a dirty look, they have most likely heard that question a million and a half times since it happened. Most people give a "Yes, I'm fine. Thank you for asking." And move on. If they don't and ignore your question, they don't have what they think is an acceptable answer. To scream "No" at the top of your lungs and break down into tears would cause a scene and upset everyone else involved. Some people are more suffer-in-silence types, and sometimes it takes a bit of time for your brain and your heart to formulate whole sentences that accurately express the way you're feeling. If you're important to them they'll reach out to you. Don't sweat the small things right this second.
3. It hurts.
I know you're probably thinking "Wow. That one's obvious," and most of the following paragraph will be, but more often than not people forget these things. When someone dies, everyone deals with it differently, but emotions run unnaturally high. It hits the loved ones closest to the deceased harder than anyone else. People make offhanded comments amidst casual conversation that can bounce off of someone's armor in just the right place to rattle it loose. Nine times out of ten this results in an argument, tears, or the emotional equivalent of a nuclear explosion. Keep in mind, that if you get caught on the wrong side of this, it's not about you. In the end, it never was and never will be. No one wants to feel like others are tip-toeing around them or walking on eggshells. You are, because it's our natural instinct as humans, but no one wants to FEEL that way. If they blow up in your vicinity, It's because all of that emotion has boiled to the top and something hit them just the right away to flip their lid.
Being reminded that they still have lovely people in their life and there are others who have felt or are feeling the same pain cushions the impact. Some people need to be alone, but being alone too much can make it worse. It gives the impression that, in life, you're alone now, but no matter how close you were to that person there are still people that love you. They need you and they know you need them, so if you're the one dealing with this pain isolating yourself won't help. If someone you love is dealing with loss of another loved one and you want to help, but you have no idea how, do your best to be there.
5. A Voice
There are times the grieving don't need you to say anything. Believe it or not, we know you don't have the answers or any magical phrase that is going to fix it. Sometimes all they need is open arms and ears that are willing to listen to every possibly ridiculous, emotionally charged, sad thing that comes out of their mouth. They know the tears, the screaming, and the pain aren't going to bring the person they love back, but they'll cry anyway. They'll still scream. The pain isn't just going to disappear, because logically it won't help anything. Your brain knows that, but your heart wants to believe that's not true, so sometimes all you need is someone that'll hear it when you cry.
Last, but not least, we have the goodbyes. This one is admittedly the hardest. Goodbyes are never easy. They hurt and I can tell you, based on experience, that the longest ones are the ones you don't want to say. It doesn't matter who you are, what you believe in, the first step to healing is acceptance. Goodbye is the beginning. Take a deep breath, let your words out with the wind, and put your soul at rest. Say your "I love you's" and that "we'll miss you," because whether they hear it or not, your heart did.