Your desire to understand: Some don’t always listen with the intent to understand. However, being understood is exactly what a grieving parent needs, especially when they are feeling misunderstood by others in their life.
In my opinion, seeking to understand someone is one of the best way to show them you care. Simply restating what you think they’re saying shows you are present and engaged, lets them know that you aren’t making assumptions, and can even help them to better understand themselves.
Your ever enduring presence: Grieving parents will still be hurting months, even years after a death. Usually, the casseroles and messages of concern stop rolling in after a few weeks.
For this reason, the check-in’s that happen after a grieving parent have essentially been left alone will send the message that you understand their pain is enduring, and reminds them you will be there for them in the long-term. Make it casual, send a card or an e-mail, that way they can choose not to respond if they don’t feel like talking. Don’t take it to heart if you don’t get a response and follow their cues. If they don’t engage with you it’s probably wise to give them a little space.
Non-judgment: After a certain period of time people start expressing opinions on how they think a grieving parent is coping – it’s taking too long, you’re trying too hard, you’re not doing enough, you don’t seem to care.
Remember, we all cope differently. Try to avoid passing judgement about whether someone is coping in a good or bad way, unless their coping mechanisms are potentially harmful to themselves or others.
When it comes to the complexities of supporting a grieving parent, this post only barely scratches the surface.
What other gifts do you think should be added?