This Pakistani Woman's Guide To Consoling People Who've Lost Loved Ones Is Extremely Important

By Bisma Rizwan | 18 Apr, 2018

The concept of dealing with loved ones passing way is hard. More often than not, we’re all left dumbfounded by grief and don’t know how to work our way out through it. While dealing with loss on its own is hard, sometimes we find ourselves wondering how to help our loved ones who’ve suffered that loss too.


Hiba Masood shared a beautiful guide for helping loved ones after her father’s demise:

“When I wasn’t nursing my irreparably broken heart or praying for my Baba’s everlasting happiness in the gardens of Paradise, I was taking mental notes on what helped me cope and what didn’t. Mostly because I like observing social behavior and I love analyzing myself, and also because it was something to do.”


A lot of people don’t have an idea of what to do and what not to do when someone passes away, so as an act of public service, she shared some thoughts. Here’s her guide on dealing with loss, especially when it’s the loss of a friend’s loved one:

1. Make the connection

A personal message is better than a generic message. However, a phone call is better than a personal message. A visit is better than a phone call. And multiple visits are better than a visit. Just be there.

2. Be willing to be vulnerable

You can falter when it comes to your words. Choking up is okay. Gibberish along the lines of “I’m sorry, I wish – I’m really sorry, I can’t imagine how you – I’m so sorry.” All okay. Total silence in which the bereaved is feeling the pressure to fill up the gaps or lighten the mood – not so okay.



3. Use your words wisely

If you’re writing an email or WhatsApp to express your condolences, you have the gift of hiding behind a screen. Use this gift well.

“Hiba, I’m so very sorry about your Baba. May Allah widen his grave and elevate his rank. I can’t imagine how you must be feeling. I’m thinking of you and praying for him. Please let me know if there is any way I can help.” means infinitely more than “Sorry for your loss, R.I.P.”

The sentiment might be the same or heck, even greater behind the short message, who knows? Now is the time to take a few minutes, stretch yourself and type a little generously and alertly. I promise it won’t kill you.


4. Ask loving questions

“How are your siblings coping?”
“How can I help?”
“Tell me something about her/him.”
All great questions! Kind questions demonstrate care and interest. They show your willingness to give a slice of your heart over to the other person, if only for a small while.


5. Nice gestures count

No one hates a quick squeeze of the hand, a friendly WhatsApp message the first thing in the morning, or a glass of water. Really, no one. Acts of service are a major love language and death is the perfect time to remember to take care of the living.

6. Don’t make it about yourself

Father, mother, husband, wife, son, daughter, brother, sister. Buddhist tradition calls the deaths of these The Eight Losses. They are universally considered the most crippling of deaths and every other relationship loss, no matter how close, is secondary.

Even if you feel like you simply cannot bear your cousin’s pain, or will die without your dearest friend or will miss your favorite aunt so very desperately, if you are not of the immediate 8 relationships mentioned above, wipe your tears, step up and offer solace. Be strong, if only for a while.

Source: Getty Images

7. Don’t EVER mistake a funeral for a social gathering

If you’re at a funeral or a meeting to express your sorrow, behave that way. Talking about her own experience, Hiba had the following to say:

“Okay, so personally speaking, when we weren’t all weepy, we were laughing a lot at my dad’s funeral. Here’s the thing: the directly bereaved are allowed all sorts of dotty behavior. (Plus humor is my family’s coping mechanism. We’ve been doing gallows-like talk about my dad for years and it’s been just the best for us so I’m sure it works for others too.) But, during a funeral, OTHER people or non-family members cracking up over the latest political scandal or gossiping about a difficult neighbor when it’s time to be in respectful silence or contemplative prayer is not so nice.”

8. Don’t be uncouth

This includes calling the deceased “body.”Just place yourself in their shoes. Think about your favorite person and someone treating them like that, especially when they’ve just departed. Equally heartbreaking is the Urdu variation “mayyat”.


9. Share a good memory

A fleeting interaction, like “I saw him at your wedding and loved how happy you all looked” or a more detailed one can actually help. Take time to share an anecdote. It doesn’t need to be profound or have some deeper philosophical connection behind it for it to be meaningful.

10. Compliment the deceased

If you personally knew the deceased, this is easier to come up with. Praise anything you want because at this time every kind word is like a balm to grieving hearts. It can be a personality aspect, a physical feature or just the way they made you feel.


For the complete guide, you can read the entire post here. Do you have any tips to share regarding helping loved ones, like Hiba did? If so, help your fellow Pakistanis out by leaving them in the comments below.


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