How to Help Someone After Unexpectedly Losing a Loved One

Although loved ones naturally pass on in the circle of life, among those who die a sudden death, either through homicide, suicide, or accident, the shock is unbearable for family members and close friends. Compassionately easing a loved one through the loss of someone who is unexpectedly snatched away from life takes skill. Good intent alone is insufficient enough to help the mourner through this incredibly painful life experience.

The state of complete shock as a result of a loved one’s unexpected death may continue for some time. At first, the reality of a violent death may remain unacceptable. This normal coping mechanism shields the family members from experiencing the extreme emotional trauma associated with the murder, suicide or fatal accident. Slowly, over time, family members start to accept the nature of the death and begin healing. Your role as a compassionate friend or family member is important to help reduce the emotional distress felt by those affected.

Acknowledge the Death

Sudden deaths, such as accidents, suicides, or murders can leave friends and family in shock and trauma

Sudden deaths, such as accidents, suicides, or murders can leave friends and family in shock and trauma

This first crucial step helps put you emotionally on the same page as the grieving. Use the name of the deceased when offering your condolences in person, in writing or by calling: “I’m saddened and shocked by your loss of Dave. I am here for you, and you are not alone.” When you speak the name of the deceased (instead of avoiding it), it reminds the grieving that their loved one’s memory continues to live on.

Be Available

Being present for the grieving can be enough to start the healing process. Knowing they are not alone, the grief-stricken will find some comfort with you holding their hand or offering a compassionate hug or moments of companionship, like sitting next to them.

It is important to consider that some mourners may prefer time alone. Respect this wish. It is their way of grieving for the time being. They may not be ready to discuss the details of their sudden loss. Wait for the appropriate time to lend a sympathetic ear.

Be available with emotional support, including openness to help and being receptive to the mourner’s needs. Listen more than you speak. Allow the grieving to express their emotions openly, shed their tears with a feeling of safety and share their stories about the memories of their loved one.

Specialists say there is no way to truly console someone over their sudden loss. The memory of a loved one who was abruptly taken from life will linger in the minds and hearts of grievers for the rest of their lives. It is no easy task to comfort someone who is shaken by violence to someone they love.

Help with Daily Tasks

Helping someone after losing a loved one will help them get through the experience faster

Helping someone after losing a loved one will help them get through the experience faster

Oftentimes, after a sudden death, loved ones experience a slight sense of confusion with daily responsibilities. They are still traumatized. You can play a helpful role by assuming some of the mundane tasks in the immediate aftermath of the loss.

While your concern for the one who lost a loved one naturally sparks you to offer help, be specific with what tasks you will assist with, like offering to drive your friend to the cemetery or pick up the kids from school. You might arrange to prepare dinner on Sunday, for instance. Offering concrete support removes the burden from the grieving to come up with ideas of how you can help. Let the grieving grieve. Do your part as an empathetic family member or friend to lift off a few of the weights of daily life while they mourn.

Show Continual Support

Immediately after the death, family members and friends are engulfed with a pouring of condolences, much-needed attention and care. Weeks or months down the line, when the support trickles down, it is equally important to demonstrate compassion. Call or email to show you are still there for your friend or family member. Share stories or photos via email about the deceased to continue the emotional recognition that the loved one is still a big part of your friend’s life.

Biohazard, Trauma, and Crime Scene Cleanup

Offering to take them to the cemetery is a great way to show your support

Offering to take them to the cemetery is a great way to show your support

Emotionally being present for your friend or family member’s loss is crucial. The next step, however, is as important. Cleaning up the trauma or suicide scene is an ordeal no family member should deal with alone. The blood and bodily fluids that remain only send the grieving into a second state of shock and intense emotional pain.

Leave the cleanup to professionals who are trained to remove the biohazards from the scene. Biohazards include all bodily fluids, according to federal regulations. Any human blood or tissue can be a source of infection. Specialists who clean crime scenes possess the permits, training and equipment necessary to remove biohazardous materials.

Commercial Cleaning Products

Hospital-grade disinfectants are used to clean the crime scene or area where the violent death occurred. Every surface must be scraped to remove all traces of blood or remains. The final stages of the cleanup include disposing of the waste in appropriate medical-waste incinerators. This process can only be completed by crime and trauma scene cleaners who possess important permits and who pay the necessary fees to dispose of the remains.

Professional Biohazard and Trauma Cleanup – ServiceMaster EMT

't hesitate to call ServiceMaster for biohazard and trauma scene cleanup

Don’t hesitate to call ServiceMaster for biohazard and trauma scene cleanup

ServiceMaster EMT provides biohazard, trauma and crime scene cleanup services that are well-respected in the area for their thoroughness as well as the sensitivity they demonstrate to families during cleanup. ServiceMaster EMT take measures to completely sanitize the area and restore it to meet OSHA and state health regulations. Trauma scene cleanup companies cooperate with law enforcement agencies when involved in cleaning up a crime scene. The cleanup professionals are trained to specifically avoid contaminating the crime scene, so as not to jeopardize the law enforcement’s investigation.

When sudden deaths occur, there is no easy route to return stabilization to those affected. However, a community of support, from family members to friends to law enforcement, can help loved ones find closure.

About the author

Luke Armstrong

Expert in emergency fire and water restoration services, fire cleanup and water damage cleanup, mold removal, as well as commercial and residential cleaning services, including carpet, upholstery and furniture cleaning. Contributor to several restoration and cleaning blogs.