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ILLUMINATING GRIEF

honoring someone's grief

flame

"A candle’s dancing light is a symbol of a living spirit. The flame burns to strengthen memories and the light of their life continues to shine."

Despite loss being a part of life, saying goodbye to a loved one is one of the hardest obstacles we face in life. A loved one’s absence is felt in the days, weeks, months, and years to come. Loss is complicated and finding one’s way through grief can be a challenge. Each loss experience is a unique journey to find healing and comfort.

Due to social and cultural pressures, many of us are taught unhealthy ways to deal with loss growing up. Many of us were never taught healthy ways to support a friend, colleague, or client during their time of loss. Because of this, many grievers can feel like they need to ignore or avoid their feelings, isolate from others, or feel alone in their grief as they try to find a “new normal.”

When someone we love is grieving or hurting, there are healthy and helpful ways we can help support them during their time of loss and grief. It is not our job to make them feel better or help heal their hurt. However, we can show our support and our care for them through our words and actions. Here are some ideas to help you get started in thinking about how to help someone dealing with loss and grief.

Download our printable Grief Resources

We have compiled these tips and ideas into an easy guide. Enter your email address below to receive your printable PDF.

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Acknowledge their loss and make space for the various emotions that come with it

Accepting the loss of our loved one is often painful for grievers. While grieving, it’s normal for a person to experience a wide range of emotions including sadness, anger, guilt, anxiety, fear and confusion.

One key in acknowledging someone’s loss is recognizing the validity of their grief, never downplaying their grief, or using language that diminishes the significance of that loved one or the complexity of feelings around the loss of their loved one. Some losses might feel disenfranchised – such as the loss of a pregnancy, a pet, an unrecognized partner, an ex, or a friend – making the griever feel like they must grieve in isolation or silence. By acknowledging their loss, you are simply saying to someone: I see your grief; you are not alone.

Reach out to show you care

It can be hard to know what to do or say when someone we love and care for experiences a loss. However, many people say that not hearing from others can make grieving harder. Even the smallest of gestures to acknowledge someone’s pain and loss can mean the most.

Instead of worrying about the just-right thing to say, the just-right thing to do, or the just-right time to offer sympathy, be the person who goes out of their way to acknowledge someone’s loss. We can acknowledge the immensity of their loss and send our heartfelt sympathies. By reaching out, it is not your goal to make them feel better but to let them know you are there.

Find concrete ways to show your sympathy

Sometimes just being there for someone after their loss can mean the most. By engaging in simple activities, like sending a personalized note, sending a gift, offering assistance, or arranging for meals to be delivered, you can help make their transition to life after loss easier.

Instead of asking what they need, offer what you can give. A friend, colleague, or client might not know what to ask for, not want to be a bother, or know what you are comfortable giving. Depending on your position or your relationship to the person experiencing grief, you might be able to give a gift card for take out, offer to babysit their children on a particular night, run errands for them, or even just sit together.

However, taking time out of your day to write a note, send a card, or pick out a gift to remember and honor their loved one can be as much or more impactful.

Recognize difficult routines

While there are many aspects of loss that are difficult, going through daily routines without a loved one can be particularly excruciating. As someone who cares about your friend, colleague, or client, you can help by recognizing that they might need additional support while navigating these new routines.

Providing them with grace and understanding in these moments is important. Offer to them what you are able to give. Be sensitive to their need to work through these situations, but also let them know how you are able to help if they would like help.

Understand there are positives and negatives in every relationship

When a loved one passes, it is common to begin focusing on the positive aspects of the relationship. Often, we are taught culturally to ignore the negative aspects of the relationship with the one we lost. Despite this, taking a realistic view of the whole relationship is important to the grieving process. 

Your role as a support person is not to provide commentary on the loved one or their relationship to those grieving. You can simply provide a safe, welcoming space and a listening ear. It is common to for someone to feel angry, upset, or have feelings of guilt or regrets following loss. This does not mean they loved the one they lost any less, but just that all beings and relationships are imperfect.

Offer social support

While at times a person living with a loss may prefer to isolate, reaching out and letting them know they are not alone can help decrease feelings of loneliness. By offering social support, we can let others know they are not a burden while they are struggling. The reality is by inviting them to be together, we also invite them to allow us to share in their grief.

Offering social support could look like inviting them to share a meal, offering to go for a walk or sit together, or even planning a trip. If a close friend has lost a partner, support could look like helping attend activities for their children, accompanying them to an event, or inviting them to spend a holiday with you or your family. Spending time with loved ones can help a griever to adjust to a new routine and life without the one they lost.

It can be helpful to continue offering social support in the weeks, months, and years to come. When the gifted flowers start to wilt and the initial food offerings are gone, their grief may still remain. By continuing to reach out, especially around significant dates or anniversaries, we can let them know that they still are not alone and we still see their loss.

Grief is hard, offer kindness

Grieving is hard and there is no right or wrong way to grieve. It can be helpful to remind a person feeling grief to offer themselves compassion, understanding, a patience to grieve in their own way. Many of us are much kinder to our loved ones than we are to ourselves. It might be difficult for someone to accept your offers of support after experiencing a loss. Know that those feelings or denial to accept your help might not be a personal affront to you.

Every experience of loss and grief is different, and as supporters we can simply show them we are there with our offers. Try to avoid comparing their responses to that of others or in other experiences of loss they may have had. Every situation and relationship and moment is unique. No one wins in situations where we compare.

Share Their Light

Remembering a loved one can not only honor their time with us, but also help us grieve their loss in a meaningful way. You are invited to share the light of your loved one on our #ShareTheirLight remembrance wall. 

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While being able to remember a loved one is a process, sometimes healing is difficult to find on one's own.

Contrary to popular belief, the passage of time does not guarantee healing. Despite our best efforts, sometimes relief is arduous to find on our own. If someone you care about is feeling stuck in their grief, is unable to complete daily activities, or is experiencing thoughts of suicide or self harm seeking out a licensed mental health professional can help. A licensed mental health professional can help explore new strategies to continue to move forward with grief and provide a safe space to share experiences. Humans are social beings and not designed to go through rainy days alone. All of us need the support of others at differing points in life.

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Candles have long been symbols of hope, guidance, and comfort.

Whether they have recently said goodbye to your loved one or have been mourning their loss for some time, it is our hope your thoughtful Memory Flame gift brings comfort as they remember their loved one. Just as each loss is unique, so is each celebration of their spirit and memory.

Download our printable Grief Resources

We have compiled these tips and ideas into an easy guide. Enter your email address below to receive your printable PDF.

* indicates required