to Help Grieving People
friends and neighbors are supportive at the time of a death, during
the wake and funeral. Food, flowers and their presence are among the
many thoughtful expressions. After the funeral, many grieving people
wonder what happened to their friends. They need support and caring
from their friends even more when the reality begins to hit and the
long process of grief begins. Their friends' help is essential, since
immediate family members have their hands full of grief and may find
it difficult to give support to one another, or may not live nearby.
help and understanding can make a significant difference in the healing
of your friend's grief. Unresolved grief can lead to physical or mental
illness, suicide or premature death. A grieving person needs friends
who are willing: to listen; to cry with them; to sit with
them; to reminisce; to care; to have creative ideas for coping; to
be honest; to help them feel loved and needed; and to believe that
they will make it through their grief.
of helping grieving people are as limitless as your imagination.
that is necessary is a squeeze of the hand, a kiss, a hug, your
presence. If you want to say something, say, "I'm sorry"
or "I care."
to help with practical matters: e.g., errands, fixing food, caring
for children. Say, "I'm going to the store. Do you need bread,
milk, etc.? I'll get the." It is not helpful to say, "Call
me if there is anything I can do."
be afraid to cry openly if you were close to the deceased. Often
the bereaved find themselves comforting you, but at the same time
they understand your t4ears and don't feel so alone in their grief.
is not necessary to ask questions about how the death happened.
Let the bereaved tell you as much as they want when they are ready.
A helpful question might be, "Would you like to talk? I'll
say, "I know just how you feel."
bereaved may ask "Why?!" It is often a cry of
pain rather than a question. It is not necessary to answer, but
if you do, you may reply, "I don't know why."
use platitudes like "Life is for the living," or "It's
God's will." Explanations rarely console. It is better to say
that the bereaved may be angry. They may be angry at God, the person
who died, the clergy, doctors, rescue teams, other family members,
etc. Encourage their anger and to find healthy ways of handling
available to listen frequently. Most bereaved want to talk
about the person who has died. Encourage them to talk about the
deceased. Do not change the conversation or avoid mentioning the
about the various phases of grief so you can understand and help
the bereaved to understand.
patient. Don't say, "You will get over it in time."
Mourning may take a long time. The bereaved need you to stand
by them for as long as necessary. Encourage them to be patient
with themselves as there is no timetable for grief.
whatever feelings are expressed. Do not say, "You shouldn't
feel like that." This attitude puts pressure on the bereaved
to push down their feelings. Encourage them to express their feelings
— cry, hit a pillow, scream, etc.
aware that a bereaved person's self-esteem may be very low.