It was my natural instinct to keep busy when my husband first died. I busied myself with his funeral and arranging a celebration of his life that was fitting his goodbye from this earthly plane. I wanted every detail to be perfect, and I put every ounce of energy I had into it.
I threw myself into fundraising for a local charity that had supported us both hugely through our darkest hours, and put every ounce of energy I could into that.
It took me 6 months of this to finally make me stop, and to face the grief. It felt like I'd tried to outwit it, out run it, pretend it never happened, because I hoped it would go away and I'd never have to face the pain inside because all the good things I was doing would heal me.
They helped, beyond a doubt, but heal, they did not.
My healing started when I sat in my grief, and felt it. There was no amount of distraction that would stop it hitting me. And it did, it hit me really hard, 6 months of unanswered grief just flooded me and I was so overwhelmed.
I had therapy, I talked about him, I found ways of connecting with him, planting a tree in a local forest in his honour, I went to matches and supported the local football team he had played in for years, I walked in places that were "ours", I found ways of keeping him in my heart, and it really helped, even though it hurt too, it did feel it was helping me to a different place on my journey. It kept him in my heart, the only place I really needed him to be.
It is ok to keep busy, but you can't avoid or side step grief, the only way to process grief is to go through it.
Helping Others Understand
One of the things I found incredibly useful was when friends would talk to me about my husband, or share memories. It often made me cry, but crying is a good thing, it's part of the process, and being able to talk to them in a safe space is wonderful. You won't upset them, the person who has died is never far from their mind.
When someone is grieving, they oscillate between two states, if you will. They either focus on their grief, and sit right in it, feeling it, looking at photos, reading messages from them. The technical term for this is "grief work" - you might hear it bandied around if you do any other reading! They may do the exact opposite and focus on anything but the grief - they do this to give them a break from this draining "grief work". It's very common to find people do this immediately after a death. It's not denial, it's partly shock and just a way for them to process what has happened in their own time.
(If you want to read more about this, look up Dual Process Model).
I hope this has given you a helpful insight.
Just be there, be present, be kind, and listen.