Having recently experienced an unexpected trauma (and I guess that’s the point, who ever expects this kind of thing), I have learned a thing or two about how others respond to it. In wanting to talk about the trauma itself, other people get uncomfortable. It is like no one knows how to handle any real pain any more. If someone is mourning the loss of a loved one, the advice “Stay strong!” really is not helpful.
Someone I love died. It is OKAY and NORMAL to be sad he is dead. He’s not coming back. It IS a loss.
Let me freaking grieve it.
When someone is grieving, simply say something compassionate like, “I’m sorry for your loss.” Then take the cue from the grieving individual as to how to proceed.
Say the same kinds of things to them that you would if you saw them at a funeral. And if they want to talk about it, heck, if they need to talk about it (which everyone does) – LET them. Don’t tell them to “stay strong” as if feeling your feelings is weak. It is normal and healthy to process the loss. What is unhealthy is to continue to act like it doesn’t exist.
Show compassion. Always. Even when it’s hard. Even when you don’t feel like it. Love one another. It’s that simple. ❤