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How to Support a Grieving Friend

You may feel powerless and unsure what to do if someone you love is walking through a season of grief, but you have the power to extend meaningful encouragement and support. However, our best attempts to make people feel better are often discouraging and ineffective. Next time you are with a loved one who is grieving, there are a few things you must keep in mind in order to help, rather than hurt, them.

Avoid the common mistake of trying to “cheer them up.”

“Cheering people up” doesn’t actually work, and telling them to move on and be strong doesn’t give them the power to do so.

Normally, when someone is grieving or upset, the people around them aren’t sure how to handle that person’s pain. Most people are uncomfortable with the prospect of letting someone remain in an upset state, so they respond by giving advice, bringing up their own sadness, and recommending ways to cope or “get over it.” This often leads people who are hurting to feel misunderstood and unsupported, which also frustrates well-meaning friends and family members who are trying to help.

However, the truth is that we cannot heal others’ pain by trying to take it away from them and make them happy, and trying to talk someone out of their pain is rarely effective. As a result, encouragements to “look on the bright side” are often more harmful than helpful, and positive thinking is never enough to help someone cope with a major loss in their life, such as the loss of a spouse, child, pet, or home. In some cases, this often causes grieving people to shut down and stop talking about their pain.

Practice acknowledgement and acceptance.

Acknowledgement and acceptance, on the other hand, are far more helpful for people who are experiencing sadness and loss. No matter what sort of hurt your loved one is experiencing, one of the best things you can do to help them is to acknowledge their pain and allow it. Being present with people in their pain and giving them the freedom to grieve, express their disappointment, or just be sad is much more helpful than trying to talk them out of it.

People who have experienced tragic loss or major life disappointment are much more likely to heal in a healthy way if they can express and feel pain, and you can help your loved ones achieve true healing by being present, kind, and accepting during this process.

Mental Health Care in Chico & Throughout Northern California

When the people you care about experience grief and loss, there are things you can do to help them move through that process. It is also important to refer them to support if their pain has become unmanageable. Mental health treatment can be effective in helping a grieving person process their experience in a safe, structured environment.

At Therapeutic Solutions, we provide compassionate support for people who are experiencing trauma, loss, grief, depression, and other forms of emotional or psychological distress. We are always here to offer skills, guidance, and tools when necessary—but we also recognize the importance of listening. Whether your experience of grief and trauma is recent or longstanding, when you come to our behavioral health care treatment center in Butte County you will be heard, accepted, and allowed to take your time during the healing process.

For mental health care in Northern California, call Therapeutic Solutions today at (530) 899-3150.