Back to all Grief Articles
Dealing with Social Situations Following a Loss
Following the loss of a loved one, it’s comforting to know you are not alone. It is customary for friends, neighbors, and loved ones to provide many types of support to the family during their difficult time. From delivering a meal, to a phone call or visit, expressing their support and care is only normal. And while they mean well, often the family is not in a place emotionally to deal with these unexpected guests.
How do I manage?
The first thing to keep in mind when facing the influx of phone calls and guests is to not apologize for the fact that you are grieving. If you need some time alone, insist on it. Don’t feel that you are not being rude, but rather you are finding a way to deal with the pain you are going through. Remember, your real friends will not be offended, and they will be there for you when you are ready. When you don’t feel like talking, let the answering machine do its job. Consider having a room in your home that is not available to visitors. Make it your sanctuary where you can retreat when you need to have some time by yourself.
Sometimes those who are visiting are grieving just as much as you are. Remember this, and try to avoid making judgments or becoming angry at things they might say. Let them grieve alongside you, and try to remember they are feeling many of the same emotions that you are. You may indeed find that spending time together remembering and reflecting can benefit everyone who is grieving the loss.
At the funeral you will need to greet guests and accept their condolences. They may not know what to say, and you may feel uncomfortable. If someone tries to spend too much time with you making polite conversation, it is perfectly acceptable to excuse yourself. Having a trusted family member or friend at your side can be a valuable resource in case you do become overwhelmed. This person can quickly take over the conversation or help you navigate through the crowd and bring you to a quiet place.
After the funeral, you may find that you become lonely, particularly if the person you lost was a part of your day-to-day life. Many of your friends will not know whether they should come to your home to visit or give you space so that you can grieve. If you are feeling the need for companionship, invite someone over. Your friends are going to respect your privacy and will likely not call you during this time. It does not mean that they do not care for you, but rather that they want to give you time to grieve. So when you need them, let them know.
Give yourself time to go through the grieving process. After a loved one dies, you may face many of the common emotions that follow a loss, such as shock, denial and anger. Give yourself enough time to work through your feelings. Place people around you who will help you through the grieving process. The death of someone you love is never easy, but understanding how to deal with the people around you will make it a little more bearable.