What is the best way to comfort someone who is grieving?

MrPal
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What is the best way to comfort someone who is grieving?

Death is a part of life of course and I'd love some points to make to someone who is grieving, as well as tips in comforting them.  I've seen some threads such as the one made by the woman who's husband died and figured it would be nice to have a thread like this. I'd especially love some things to say to an atheist who is grieving, but whatever you can share is appreciated.  

 

I definitely encourage you to think for your own, but here are a few things to consider:  Different circumstances of death and how much pain the dead went through, the age of the dead, different relationships to the dead, how good or bad the dead person was, the person grieving can be saddened by anything (not just the death of a loved one.)

 

I eagerly wait your replies and advice and I know we can learn a lot by discussing this.

 

 

 

 

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The Doomed Soul
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Well, many people have their

Well, many people have their own process and/or cycles... but the "cant go wrong" route, is...

 

LEAVE THEM THE FUCK ALONE

If they want something, they'll come to you. If not, all the better!

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Infidelis
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 obviously you dont want to

 obviously you dont want to push anything, but the "LEAVE THEM THE FUCK ALONE" approach won't help. if anything, make it the leave them the fuck alone + let them know you're there approach that cant go wrong.


The Doomed Soul
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Infidelis wrote: let them

Infidelis wrote:

 let them know you're there

 

If you have to remind them, that you are their for them in a moment of crisis, you're really not that close -_-

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MrPal
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 Thank you for your

 Thank you for your replies! 

 

To be honest your replies aren't exactly what I'm after...  To be precise, I'd love some arguments and tips that can aid a person (especially an atheist or agnostic) in the steps of grieving all the way up to the step of acceptance.  Leaving them alone while they are getting through it doesn't seem to be the right thing to do to me.  And "being there" for someone is very basic, and I say this with all due respect.

You guys are great at having deep thoughts and I'd really enjoy hearing some of them regarding grief is all.  (As well as things like PTSD or people getting through things that have harmed their psyche, etc.)

 

Thank you for your time.

 

 

I never thought there were corners in my mind until I was told to stand in one.

I have learned so much, thanks for keeping it real RRS.


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:3

 If they were close I'd take them somewhere fun and show them a crazy time that would make them forget about everything else.

 

Laughing out loud

 

 


Really, people get over things with time. If you know them well, do things with them that they enjoy. Distractions and/or new things help.

 

 

Theism is why we can't have nice things.


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MrPal wrote:To be honest

MrPal wrote:
To be honest your replies aren't exactly what I'm after...  To be precise, I'd love some arguments and tips that can aid a person (especially an atheist or agnostic) in the steps of grieving all the way up to the step of acceptance.  Leaving them alone while they are getting through it doesn't seem to be the right thing to do to me.  And "being there" for someone is very basic, and I say this with all due respect.

My opinion?

If I was depressed about something, the last thing I would want would be for someone to argue about what they think I should do. People that are grieving want to know that there is someone there for them, someone who cares about them. They want friends who will listen to their thoughts and feelings, not 'friends' who will repeatedly thrust their thoughts upon them. It's okay to politely offer our opinions to those who are grieving, but after that, we should just shut the hell up.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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:3

I suppose I'm upbeat about things. I celebrate someone's life rather than grieve. I feel that grief over their loss, is being sad over your own loss of them. Not really theirs. It feels too selfish to me.

 

I've had friends die and really the only part that makes me upset are the funerals. I had a friend of mine die in high school for example and the pastor where the funeral was held took the opportunity to preach christianity to most of my school who was there, talking for 2 hours about how my dead friend was a "good christian" and was "with the lord" like we need to be when we die when he wasn't even christian, he was wiccan and open about it.


I don't know why you would want to intentionally make someone feel bad about someone else dieing though. That seems contradictory. People only get over things with time, whether they feel bad or not along the way doesn't matter.
 

That is why if someone close is feeling down I will see if I can bring them up a few notches and give them a good time. Everyone deserves that much! Laughing out loud

 

Theism is why we can't have nice things.


Renee Obsidianwords
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MrPal wrote: Thank you for

MrPal wrote:

 Thank you for your replies! 

 

To be honest your replies aren't exactly what I'm after...  To be precise, I'd love some arguments and tips that can aid a person (especially an atheist or agnostic) in the steps of grieving all the way up to the step of acceptance.  Leaving them alone while they are getting through it doesn't seem to be the right thing to do to me.  And "being there" for someone is very basic, and I say this with all due respect.

You guys are great at having deep thoughts and I'd really enjoy hearing some of them regarding grief is all.  (As well as things like PTSD or people getting through things that have harmed their psyche, etc.)

 

Thank you for your time.

 

 

Man oh man, are you writing a book or thesis or something? Your parameters are so...specific!  

A couple considerations for you as you gather your research:

A) Does the person suffering the loss believe in a god?

B) Does the atheist offering 'aid' have the ability to see their support through until the step of acceptance(as suggested by you) ~  (ie: time, distance, closeness..)

I wish I had a few things to share ~ the problem is that I have experienced death a handful of times and each instance, those grieving have done so within the security blanket of religion or surrounded by those that do. I recently lost a friend and I approached his partner with this: "I will be here to support you in any way you need, just ask me."

Slowly building a blog at ~

http://obsidianwords.wordpress.com/


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comforting a greiving friend

Thanks for posing this question, MrPal. I do think it can produce a valuable discussion, exchange of ideas, that might help many.  When I believed in a god (no specific denomination), and was called upon to explain the concept of death to my young son, it was easy and comforting to tell him about a wonderful place where the departed loved one goes, where there's no pain, no hunger, no brutality, etc. blah blah.  Using that image/concept, of which I had no proof whatsovever was an easy out and gave my children a (false) sense of order and justice to the world.  When I let go magical thinking and came to accept this life is all that we can know for certain, so do no harm, live it well with no regrets--the first thing I mourned in my new state of clarity was the loss of that security blanket, the surety of justice, peace, and enduring calm in the afterlife.  I got over it, though, and I now find the fierce urgency of now exhilarating, and strangely, comforting.  That said, I, too, have searched my mind for compassionate, empathetic things I can say and do to a friend who's gut is wrench with the loss of a loved one.  And I hear from those who have experienced this kind of loss, that it is exactly that, gut sinking, paralyzingly awful pain.  In the immediate stage, right after the news of this death, I think there is little you can or should say.  Let the compassion and empathy you feel for the living person in pain come through your eyes, your hugs, your willingness to help them navigate the daily tasks that become unbearable under the riveting pain and recognition that the loved one is literally no longer.  Being a good listener, allowing your friend to talk freely about the good memories they have of the deceased, talk about what that person would have wanted,  would do, would say is a way of staying "in the real" while keeping their "presence" present.  We nonbelievers have no easy platitudes to offer and should not make them up. The loved one is dead, that's permanent, and it hurts like a thousand cuts to the bone. Acknowledging that in quiet, compassionate ways helps the grieving person. They don't have to fake that they are "handling it", or put on a smile for you and the world. Their hurt will scar, but for some the throbbing nature of it diminishes over time. What irks me no end is always the premature talk of "closure," and "getting over it" and "going on with life." This is what pains a grieving person more and we should never indulge in this psychobabble. Each one cobbles together  a life over, through or around the scar of the loss--in their own time. Some never do. Hopefully with the love and companionship of family and friends, most do.  So I would say that the best we atheists can do to comfort a grieving friend is to be willing to walk with them through their day, sometimes even to carry them through the wave of pain--that's what "I'm here for you" really means.  Let them know that whenever they feel like it they can talk about the person, you'll listen, show them that you want to listen and learn about the beautiful, human qualities of the loved one they mourn. Even in the face of extreme brutality (e.g., post traumatic stress disorder from witnessing horrific wartime acts,  friend is murdered, etc.),  focusing on the our humanity is the best, most honest, and solid solace we can offer. Pay it forward.  

 

Here are some other thoughts, not my own, that I gathered from near and far on the topic:

• No person is really alone. Those who live no more still echo within our thoughts and words. And, what they did has become woven into what and who we are.

• Encountering the reality of death bring us a closer to understanding that love IS life. It is what nourishes us and brings meaning to life. As you realize XXX who you have loved so deeply cannot come back,  this grief will transform you. Just as love transforms us, so too does grief. The question really is now: how will you be transformed, for better or worse?  How would XXX have wanted you to live...?

• By evading some of the reality of this death, seeking protection in denial helps you to survive, at least for now, and that's OK. In time, when you gently, step by step, open yourself up to the finality of it, this ultimately offers the greatest release--the opportunity to mourn so that you can live again. 

 

Hope this post is helpful in some way.  

RR

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I dont think there is a

I dont think there is a "best way".  I think a better attitude is "what works".

Grieving for some may involve isolation, which they may need, at some points.  Grieving for others may involve more interaction with others. Support should be always be available, but it cant be forced on someone and can make things worse if thrust on someone unwillingly.

It is not either or. But situational and time and context related.

I think you cant ever make blanket statements about any situation.

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fortitude
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grieving

There have been some really good suggestions to come out of this so far, in terms of what to do when trying to help a person you care about get through very hard times. 

I'll tell you a few things that helped for me.  I am only qualified by experience and not by training or study on the subject.

  • Distraction was a good coping mechanism.  The mind can only handle so much unrelieved grief.  I read a lot through the worst of times - some romping good fiction that took me to another place with people who had different problems.   
  • Laughter helps to relieve the emotional strain, or at least it did for me.  I found that friends who could make me laugh helped some.  Also, sometimes I would watch the most absolutely stupid shows on TV.  It was like junk food for my brain. 
  • I felt very alone and isolated in my loss.  Finding someone to talk to who had been through something similar may have helped a lot.  
  • Spending time with a caring friend or family member can help, especially if it's someone you are comfortable with.  The person in mourning may switch between sadness and inappropriate anger and inappropriate humour.  All of this is hard to understand when you haven't gone through it.  If you are the friend, try not to get embarassed by the bare emotionality of it all. If you can't be emotional then, I don't know when you can. 

 

"There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right." Martin Luther King


Atheistextremist
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Fort is right with this hands-on stuff

fortitude wrote:

There have been some really good suggestions to come out of this so far, in terms of what to do when trying to help a person you care about get through very hard times. 

I'll tell you a few things that helped for me.  I am only qualified by experience and not by training or study on the subject.

  • Distraction was a good coping mechanism.  The mind can only handle so much unrelieved grief.  I read a lot through the worst of times - some romping good fiction that took me to another place with people who had different problems.   
  • Laughter helps to relieve the emotional strain, or at least it did for me.  I found that friends who could make me laugh helped some.  Also, sometimes I would watch the most absolutely stupid shows on TV.  It was like junk food for my brain. 
  • I felt very alone and isolated in my loss.  Finding someone to talk to who had been through something similar may have helped a lot.  
  • Spending time with a caring friend or family member can help, especially if it's someone you are comfortable with.  The person in mourning may switch between sadness and inappropriate anger and inappropriate humour.  All of this is hard to understand when you haven't gone through it.  If you are the friend, try not to get embarassed by the bare emotionality of it all. If you can't be emotional then, I don't know when you can. 

 

 

having some one to talk to is great as well - you need to be allowed to vent, cry, drone on and on. Hanging out with people you love you is a vital part of surviving grief. The trouble is, things happen that defy rational justification.

As a friend you can't just say to some one - hey that's the way life is. We know that's the way life is but the person needs to reach that comprehension on their own and in their own time.

It's tough. You have to be around, available, genuinely concerned, and reach out a lot whether the person is asking you to or not. There's warmth in simple expressions of concern or sympathy or even just a shared sniffle.

Some types of people pull away when they're sad and while you don't want to invade their space you need to project your friendship more robustly at such times.

 

 

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck