Supporting a Grieving Person

How to Support a Grieving Person

You may want to ask family and friends to read this section.


 Understanding Grief

  • Be aware that grief is like an emotional rollercoaster there will be highs, lows and setbacks and everybody deals with grief differently.
  • Grieving involves extreme emotions and behaviours. The bereaved needs reassurance that what they are feeling is normal.
  • The bereaved needs to feel free to express their feelings without judgement.
  • It’s alright to sit in silence with the bereaved; sometimes they do not want to talk they just need a comforting presence.
  • Don’t avoid talking about the deceased person, it’s important to the bereaved that their loss is acknowledged and their loved one is not forgotten.
  • There is no time frame to grieving, so don’t pressure the bereaved person to move on.
  • Do not compare their grief to that of a divorced person or to one that has lost an elderly parent or any other type of grief.
  • Don’t assume if they were together a short time like 10 years, their grief is much less that a couple who were together for say thirty years. We beg to differ; it is the depth of your love, not the length of time.

 Practical Advice

  • Drop off a casserole or other type of food.
  • Offer to stay in their home to take phone calls and receive guests
  • Assist with forms and bills.
  • Offer to watch their children, pick up from school, sports, etc.
  • Offer to take their children shopping to buy a gift for their parent on significant occasions such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthdays and Christmas.
  • Offer to drive them wherever they need to go in the first weeks.
  • Look after their pets.
  • Go to support group meetings with them.
  • Accompany them on walks.
  • Ask them to join you on activities.
  • Remember them at milestones (birthdays, anniversaries..) A card, text or call to acknowledge is often greatly valued.

 What to say to someone who has lost a loved one

  • Express your concern – eg: “I’m sorry for your loss”.
  •  Ask how they feel eg: “how are you feeling today?” (and be prepared to listen to their response).
  • Acknowledge the deceased by using their name.
  • Offer your support – “tell me what I can do to help you.”
  • Be honest – eg: “I’m not sure what to say, but I want to you to know I care.”

What not to say to someone who has lost a loved one

  • “I know how you feel.”
  • “It’s part of God’s plan.”
  • “He/She is in a better place now.”
  • “It was his/her time to go.”
  • “He/she is not suffering anymore.”
  • “At least you are still young, you’ll meet somebody else.”
  • “You can get married again.”
  • “At least you have got the children/child.”
  • “This experience will be the making of you.”
  • “Don’t you think it’s time you found someone else?”
  • “You are still wearing your wedding ring.”
  • “You are always out doing fun things, I’m jealous of your freedom.”
  • “I don’t know how you do it.”
  • This is behind you now; it’s time to move on.”
  • “Have you met anyone new?” (Not appropriate to ask this question)

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