It takes practice to listen effectively. In the case of a death, one of the best ways to help one who is grieving, especially early on, is to listen; just listen…then, listen some more. There is a need for someone who is grieving to talk, but only when they are ready. They have a greater need for someone to listen…just listen. The listener does not have to offer answers or have any words of wisdom; they just need to listen.
Early on in the grieving process, people are in shock, disoriented and feeling helpless. They are doing everything they can to absorb the impact of their loss. Often, anything being said to them is garbled and meaningless to at the time. Those in mourning need time to process the event, to think, to hope, to cry and to pray.
Being there for them is appreciated, even though they may act as if you are invisible. When they are ready to talk, they will. This is the time to listen! This is the time to let them have the floor. There is no need to say anything or offer any advice, just listen to them. Placing your hand on their hand or their shoulder is very timely interaction as is a hug, if permitted.
When they are ready for you to talk, you will know. If they need your thoughts or advice, they will ask. Remember, each situation is different. You can read guidelines, but be sure to follow your heart. By the way, thanks for listening.