Understanding grief and loss, how to help

To the Editor:

Grief and loss are two of the hardest subjects for anyone to talk about. People who are going through loss are living through some of the darkest points in their lives. It’s hard to understand if you haven’t experienced it.

When I was 3 years old, I lost my brother Brian, who was 2 at the time. As I grew older, this became a subject that I felt no one would ever be able to understand how I felt about. None of my friends had experienced anything like it, and it was even different for my mom and dad, because they had lost their son, not sibling. I felt like I had no one to talk to, and it was very lonely.

Thankfully, when I was 10, I found Experience Camps. They helped me feel like I could share my feelings, because at camp everyone understood me and the feelings around my loss. I no longer felt like I needed to stifle it, and I learned ways to talk about it with others when I got back home.

I don’t want anyone to feel as alone as I did. Here are some ways you can help friends like me, how to talk to your friends who have lost someone:

1. Don’t try to make it better. The person who you are talking to is going through a loss, and going through a loss hurts. If you say things like “It could be worse” or “Well at least ... ,” it makes it seem like you can’t see our side of this pain.

2. Be consistent. Be willing to talk about it more than once. Send more than one card. A lot of people just do something once, but it is more helpful when you know someone is there for the long haul.

3. Be a shoulder to cry on. Everyone cries, but for some people it is harder than it is for others. If you see someone struggling, let them know they can always just let loose with you.

4. Just listen! You don’t need to understand the loss to be helpful. The best thing you can do is say “I’m here for you” and listen to anything that the person who is grieving has to say.

ALEX VITALE

Auburn

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