How to Support a Grieving Person
You may want to ask family and friends to read this section.
- 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.
- 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)