I am grieving. A very dear friend of mine has died. Death is an inevitability — none of us gets out of this life alive. But even though my friend’s death was not unexpected, it still is hitting me hard. I struggle between gratitude for their friendship, the sweet memories, and the fact they are no longer suffering … versus my deep sorrow that they are no longer here, and the great void that their absence leaves behind in the lives and hearts of those who love them.
As I feel what I am feeling, I have also been looking into grief, how to help those who are grieving, and what researchers and therapists have to say. I want to share some resources I found helpful.
People struggle with how to help family and friends who are grieving. They want to help, but they don’t know what to say or do. Often they are paralyzed and end up doing or saying nothing.
I heard this helpful podcast two years ago on the topic and I re-listened to it this morning.
How To Say the Right Thing at the Worst Time – How To! podcast
Click here to listen to the podcast
Click here to read the transcript
The main takeaways of the podcast are:
- Ask and offer, don’t give advice.
- When in doubt, say something. It can be as simple as, “I hear you and I am sorry that you are hurting.”
- Avoid saying, “let me know how I can help.” Instead, anticipate concrete tangible things they might need and offer them.
- When all else fails, find some human moment just to share; let them know we are here and available.
Dr. Joanne Cacciatore is professor at Arizona State University who specializes in grief, traumatic death, and grief counselling. I listened to a couple guided meditations of hers on grief using the Calm app and found them helpful. I wanted to learn more about her.
She is the founder of the MISS Foundation, devoted to families who have experienced the death of a child. She also founded the Selah Carefarm, a 10-acre farm where rescued animals are cared for, and where bereaved family members give and receive connection, compassion, and understanding.
She has written two books on grief: “Grieving is Loving” and “Bearing the Unbearable: Love, Loss, and the Heartbreaking Path of Grief“
Here are two YouTube videos and one podcast featuring Dr. Cacciatore you may find helpful:
Joanne Cacciatore: Why Death and Grief are Necessary for Life and Joy, 21 minutes
Grief and Care – An Interview with Dr. Joanne Cacciatore, 14 minutes
Working with Grief with Dr. Joanne Cacciatore – Being Well podcast, 1:07:32
There is no pill. There is no fix. There is no cure to this kind of trauma, to this kind of grief. The only thing we can do is to create space so that the love eventually reinhabits that space – alongside the grief. There is no annihilation of the grief. There’s no extinction of the grief.Dr. Joanne Cacciatore
If you are experiencing grief, know you are not alone. Share your grief and seek the help and love of others. Read, watch, or listen to Dr. Cacciatore.
If you know someone who is grieving, consider heeding the advice given by the How To! podcast above.