Not everyone reacts to trauma in the same way and not everyone processes grief at the same time. On this seventh anniversary of 9/11 we are reminded that there are widows, parents who have lost children, children who lost a parent and today the pain of loss is reignited. For some it will be as fresh as yesterday, for others they will have filled their life with additional loved ones and it may feel more distant. Both of these are normal and should not be judged.
It's difficult to be the long-term support system for someone who has suffered a traumatic loss. Partly because when you help someone who has loss you, by necessity, identify with their sadness, which makes you feel sad. This makes many people wish to avoid being around a grieving person. But social support is exactly what they need- even if it's a token thought, a card, a call. The key is to sympathize without being sucked into feeling exactly what they feel. Also, gather others to help add support and share the burden. Caregiver burnout is very real and guilt often prevents those closest from taking a break. Burnout can hurt you both mentally and physically, so take breaks and recruit other family or friends to take a turn.
For the griever they may feel trapped by others expectations that they should have moved on already. This may make them stop asking for help and become isolated. Let them know that its OK to be having pain, to have bad days and its also OK to have good days and to let themselves have some pleasure. Sometimes guilt keeps the one left behind from letting themselves live their life again. So, today remember all the people struggling from loss and reach out...if only to say you are their friend and you care.