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Can the inconsolable be comforted?

2015. szeptember 02. - Andrea Lung

Written by Andrea Lung, MA Counseling
Translated by Sylvia P. Farkas

alomkicsi.jpg"The repelling force of grief must be overcome by love. If this fails, life after grieving will transform most of your relationships."

Death is said not to change people but to show their true faces. It also often reveals what kind of relationship with a particular person you actually have. Not all bonds can withstand deep grief, and, thus, grief often changes not only the lives of mourners but also the lives of those left behind. This does not necessarily need to have material motives, there are often strong emotional reasons in the background which do not fade away even after the mourning period is over. When someone passes away, we never consider the possibility that the grieving person might be alone with his/her pain as we don't even think this was possible. We often do not want to say something silly, so we decide rather not to say anything. We often do not feel that we should be there, beside the grieving one; or if we do, we often fail to take action. Soon we probably have to face the grieving person's disappointment, as someone who is in grief conceives our action as letting down, even if that was not our intention at all. Actually, no one can be expected to serve as a person of support in difficult times, since that must come from one's heart, such gesture needs to have an internal motivation. Despite all that, based on emotional relationships, the wounded soul of the mourner is expecting helping and supporting remarks from those whom one trusts, who one dares cry with and who one dares open up to. Its them, whom the mourners expect to console them in this fragile state, in the first place. Many, who grieved explain later how upset and angry, and how disappointed they are with some people, as they feel that they have been let down and not listened to by those whom they have expected to be of help the most. Such wounds do not heal easily, just like friendships that overcome such trial of difficulties will not fade away easily either. 
Let's see what you should do!

Do not remain silent
Many do not know what they should say when someone dies. So they often do not say anything. Nowadays, - whether you accept it or not - social networks are hot spots of social life. As long as a short message or an sms is okay when it comes to distant acquaintances, they are not enough at all in our closer relationships. Call them, go and see them, hug them! Do not be pushy but keep in mind that for those who mourn, such actions, the reassuring love of their loved one's, are very important. Make time for that! Fortunately such losses do not happen every day, so you do not have to be experienced. You do not need to know what you are going to say. Sometimes no words are needed at all, you do not need to say anything. A hug can be enough, listening carefully can help, or if you make her a tea, if you do the shopping for her, if you buy her black tights so she does not need to take care of that. Such things can mean more than many words. If you disappear, if you are not there when you are needed, if you offer your help in a short message but do nothing afterwards and do not ask your loved ones what you could do for them, you should not be surprised to leave wounds behind. Kindness, tenderness, love must overcome the repelling force of grief. If this fails, the life after grieving will transform all relationships.

Do not act as if nothing had happened - Take the pain into consideration
When we lose someone, our state of mind is out of balance. We are much more sensitive, we often cry or we do not cry at all. Our mood changes continuously but in an unpredictable way. We can be devastated, angry, desperate or even resigned. Although we must function "normally" we are highly sensitive and much more vulnerable than usual. So if someone who is close to us is in such a state of mind, the best we can do is to accept their pain, and - at least for a while - we should better efface our own problems when meeting them. Not because our problems are not important enough, but because those who mourn cannot even bear themselves sometimes. If you are in the support system of a mourner , do not make the pain even deeper by not showing your support, by not taking part in everyday duties or by scolding one when leaving for the cemetery again. Even if you think that life goes on and that we must let go, even if these might be true, consider the fact that everyone handles his/her pain on its own way. Do not inflict unnecessary stress situations like where you should go for lunch, who should pick up the kids from nursery school or how the bills will be paid. Take over some tasks, be flexible and understanding, mostly during the mourning process. Do not give rise to more pain, do not be insensitive since everything can cause uncrossable difficulties for the long run. Keep in mind that this period of time is not at all about you, but about the one who passed away and the one who mourns. Stay in the background and help. Do not cause unnecessary pain.

Do not forget, the mourning person is still alive
It is an indisputable fact that those who are "left behind" are still alive. A chapter in our life might be over but we must go on, even if this seems to be impossible. Keep this in mind! Help your mourning loved one by inviting him/her, do not leave him/her out of celebrations. Although he/she suffered a loss, do not think of him/her as someone whose life is over. A mourner does need social contact and new experiences so to find handholds in his/her life, so that he/she can feel that he/she belongs somewhere. It is often enough to listen, so that he-she can talk about the pain. Do not be afraid to mention the name of the late one, it helps the mourners, since you demonstrate that this person is still important, that you are there because of your commitment, love and bond and not only because of this painful loss. It is important to show the grieving person that life is not over, that it goes on. If the mourner feels ready to take life on again, it is not needed to face it alone, one does not need to suffer left alone in the loneliness of grief. It is important to show to this person joy and laughter for time to time and then slowly even the food will taste the same again though it will surely still hurt inside.

(Illustration: Pinterest)

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andrealung139165ff.jpgAuthor: Andrea Lung, MA Counseling
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