We Got You, Sis: How To Be There For A Loved One When They Experience An Unexpected Tragedy
From a young age, we all have to come to terms with the fact that death is apart of life, but you never know just how life-changing it is until it happens to someone deeply close to you. Some of us have gone almost our whole lives and never really had to deal with a death of someone close to us. Then there are others who have been surrounded by death from a very early age—and thus have adapted to the feelings it brings. Whatever your relationship with death, especially when it’s unexpected, it’s important to know how to help others when they’re faced with loss.
Many fans are currently dealing with grief due to the killing of hip-hop artist Nipsey Hussle, who was fatally gunned down outside his clothing store in Los Angeles Sunday. There has been an outpouring of love and tributes throughout social media from fellow celebrities and fans alike, but most are concerned with the state of Nipsey’s girlfriend and mother of his son, actress Lauren London, whose world has now been totally turned upside down.
If you have someone in your life who has experienced an unexpected loss, you may not know exactly how to support them the right way. You don’t want to be too intrusive, too smothering, too distant or just too much, but you might not know what to do to help. Whether you’re used to being the source of comfort and support for all those around you in times of need or you simply freak out around death, here are a few ways to help your loved one get through the toughest time of their life.
- Just Be There – Sometimes that’s all it takes, just being there and being present. You’d be surprised just how comforting your physical or emotional presence is to someone who is devastatingly grief-stricken. Your loved one is already dealing with an unexpected loss, so knowing they still have people around who love them is crucial.
- Be Prepared For Emotional Outbursts – If you can’t deal with the inevitable emotional outbursts that are sure to come at some point, you need to support from afar. However, if you know that your loved one’s pain will eventually need an outlet, then be ready to help them release. During their emotional outbursts, they may yell, scream, cry, throw things, or even direct their hurt at you. Let them. Whatever they need to do, let them have those moments in order for them to begin the long process to healing.
- Let Them Take The Lead – The unexpected loss happened to them, so let them guide you into helping them. One of the worst things you can do for someone who is grieving is to be too overbearing, so resist the urge as much as possible. Instead, try to pick up on nonverbal cues or offer your help in a peaceful way without being domineering. When they really need you or want your help, they will let you know.
- Address The Elephant In The Room – One of the most common ways that people try to help a grieving loved one is to not actually talk about the person that passed away. However, that can actually make things worse because you’re putting a blanket on top of a smoldering fire. Instead, if your loved one brings up the person in their life who died, don’t change the subject or try to stop them from talking—let them express any memories, sentiments or feelings they like. Ignoring death is never an effective way to deal with it, remember that.
- Don’t Stop Reaching Out – Regardless if it’s been days, weeks or months, don’t stop reaching out and lending your support. Your loved one may seem fine on the surface, but they could still be completely broken inside. This means that checking up on them regularly, whether physically or through phone calls and text messages, could be the difference between them suffering in silence or letting out their grief with someone who cares.
- Understand That Everyone Grieves Differently – During times of grief, your loved one may be the type of person who cries every five minutes while curled up in bed in the fetal position. They could also never shed a tear around others and be back to work the next day like nothing ever happened. One type of grieving isn’t better than the other—and that’s something that many don’t seem to understand. What you don’t want to do is question the way your loved one is grieving, regardless if it’s what you would do or not. Just support them all you can—without the judgement that those who lack compassion can bring.
- Love Them – That’s what it ultimately boils down to. They’re going through unimaginable pain and all they really need is for you to love them through it, harder than you every have before. Love them through their mood swings, crying fits, nonchalance and bitter anger. Love them when it’s hard because what you’re going through while supporting them doesn’t even compare to what they’re experiencing by loosing someone so suddenly.