Grief Education Companioning the Bereaved: The Five “L's” for supporting the grieving —
1. Love ~
all is said and done, love is the only happiness. While we can,
and do, come to terms with the death of someone we love, in our
own ways and our own time spaces, we must remember and teach that
— while people die, love does not.
2. Laugh ~
studies have shown the powerful healing and calming effect of a
good laugh, or even better, a shared laugh. A hallmark of the grief
and healing process is the ability, in the midst of intense feelings
of loss, to be able to find humor or allow the presence of laughter
to balance the sadness. Bereaved people will often deny themselves
the feeling of pleasure that accompanies laughing as an unhealthy
way to show the outside world the status of their mourning. They
may even deny themselves the gift of feeling pleasure as a way to
stay connected to their sadness and to the deceased.
3. Live ~
to the bereaved, it is of critical importance that we model an “attitude
of gratitude” towards the gift that is life. In so doing, we
honor not the death, but rather the life that was lived. When we
couple this with whatever the religious or secular beliefs of our
bereaved companion, we are modeling a truly high level of spirituality.
4. Learn ~
we need to learn to cultivate curiosity. This “client as teacher”
attitude allows for the narrative that is every bereaved person's
story to unfold from the expert - the person actually surviving
the loss. As companions to the bereaved, this frees us from having
to say exactly the right thing or act in a particular manner that
we may or may not be comfortable with.
5. Listen ~
God has given us two
ears and one mouth; we ought to use them in that proportion. We
must listen with our head and our heart. Both of these, in the bereaved,
have been impacted by their loss. Finding the balance between scientific
(head) knowledge and the art of listening with the heart is a skill
developed with practice, patience, and prayer.