As someone who specializes in the field of loss and bereavement, I am often asked how to help those who are grieving. While there is no quick and easy answer; here are some suggestions that I hope will serve as a guideline when offering support.
- Be there to listen without judgment. Let the mourner talk, but don’t force them to do so – sometimes, just being there provides the best comfort.
- Keep in mind, you cannot rush grief, it is a process, not an event –and certainly not time limited.
- When discussing the deceased, use the name of the person who has died. Encourage the mourner to express memories of the deceased.
- Encourage expression of all feelings of grief. Feelings aren’t right or wrong – feelings just are.
- Do not avoid your grieving friend because you are uncomfortable. This only contributes to their pain.
- Do not try to find something positive about the death. This can appear as if you are “justifying” the why of a tragedy, it’s not your role to do so.
- Do not change the subject when the deceased name is mentioned. This too can seem hurtful to the mourner.
- Do concrete things- make a meal, run an errand, carpool (as opposed to saying, “call me if you need anything”) Mourners don’t always want to ask for things specifically
- Try to avoid comments like, “you’re so strong”, “It could have been worse”or “It was g-d’s will” Let the mourner guide you in their belief system as to why the death occurred.
Helping a family member or friend deal with the death of a loved one is never easy. However, given that death is an inevitable part of life, it is through the love, care and support of one another that Mourners find their way through.
“Grief shared is grief diminished”. To learn more or book an appointment with a grief counselor, call 514-684-9073