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Things to Remember

When Supporting a Grieving Person

Acknowledge the loss as soon as you can after you get the news

Send a sympathy card with a note of personal condolence. Don’t let fear that you won’t say or do the right thing hold you back from talking with the bereaved person.

Be genuine by being yourself

Your connection with the bereaved person should be a continuation of your usual relationship with them.

Get good information about grief so that you can understand the normal responses and process of grieving

Grief is a natural and necessary process that helps the bereaved person to adjust to life without the person who died.

Be willing to open the subject and to mention the name of the person who died

Rather than filling the conversation with other topics, let the bereaved person talk with you about the death and their feelings.

Listen to the bereaved person

Allowing them to talk and repeat their story will help them to process their thoughts and feelings. Sharing memories of times spent with the person who died can be very comforting for you and the bereaved person.

Accept that you cannot take the pain away

The death of someone important is painful. Trying to “cheer up” a bereaved person denies the significance and depth of their grief.

Reach out to offer support

Be there by making regular contact over time. Many bereaved people find it hard to reach out or are concerned about being a burden on friends and family. Your initiative in keeping in touch will be appreciated.

Be patient

Mourning takes lots of time and grief never entirely goes away. The bereaved will have ups and downs, be flexible in how you offer support.

Understand that everyone grieves in their own way and at their own pace

How we grieve is the result of our history of loss, our relationship with the deceased and many more factors. Accept the bereaved person’s evaluation of the significance of the loss and depth of their feelings.

Remember there is no right way to grieve

Avoid criticizing how someone is grieving; you cannot know what is best for them. However if you are concerned, encourage them to take care of themselves by getting professional help.

Expect that your own grief may be triggered

Your feelings may be related to this loss or to a loss that happened in your past. Ask yourself: Does the bereaved person want to know, will it feel helpful to them now?

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