EMPATHY 101: Understanding and Supporting People Who Are Grieving

Most people aren’t comfortable when faced with strong negative emotions exhibited in other people, such as anger and sadness. Many of us don’t have the ability to support our loved one while being sensitive to their plight. While we mean well, we can react and say things that may come off as thoughtless and/or harsh. Feelings of sympathy might come easy, but being empathetic is far more important.

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What Is Empathy?

Sympathy is trying to be supportive while someone is experiencing sadness and/or grief. Empathy is the ability to recognize and share the feelings they are facing. Once we recognize what they’re feeling, we’re better equipped to express our sympathies for their loss. However, if you haven’t been through a similar experience, being empathetic can be difficult.

Walk a Mile in Their Shoes

The best thing to do in a situation with someone who has suffered a loss is to try and understand why they are feeling and acting the way they are. A grief-stricken person can act negatively and say hurtful things they don’t mean. Empathizing with their situation will enable you to better support them. Put yourself in their shoes; imagine if you faced a similar loss, how would you feel? It can be a painful process, but it will give you a deeper understanding of the other person’s grief. You will be able to forgive them if they were being hurtful and/or try to help them deal with their loss in a positive manner.

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Provide the Best Support

Practicing empathy makes you more compassionate as you’re more aware of the needs of the people around you. With this, you get better at supporting and comforting those who are dealing with grief, and even other difficult situations. Below are ways you can show your empathy to a grieving person:

· Don’t assume! Ask them what they need in a caring way. Everyone grieves differently so you may be surprised with what they share with you.

· Try to understand their situation. You don’t know what a grieving person might be thinking at any given time. The best thing to do is to allow them to go through the process while ensuring they know you are there for them.

· Always keep your shoulder available. Let them know they can rely on you for anything and be there for them when they ask for help.

· Hear them out. Don’t try to inflict your personal opinions and experiences on them or how you think they should cope. Just listen and empathize. Sometimes, venting is all they need.

· Give them space but don’t distance yourself. Understand that a grieving person can feel overwhelmed and may lash out if they feel like they need some space. But don’t put too much distance between you that they feel like they can’t reach out.

· Be gentle. Remember how you felt or would feel in a similar situation and how you would want someone to treat you? People dealing with grief are often just focusing on keeping it together and a simple thoughtless comment may be enough to devastate them.

Show You Understand and Care with KikuPal

When you practice empathy, you’ll be more intuitive towards the needs of a person who is grieving. Give them the best sympathy gift that will help them through their grieving and healing journey. KikuPal’s online grief support system offers a redeemable sympathy gift point system that can be used for practical and long-term help such as meal delivery, house cleaning, lawn care, rides, and much more. The following months after a loss are emotionally and physically exhausting. With the gift of KikuPal, they can focus their energy on their support system of family and friends thus igniting the healing process.