Helping the Bereaved
- A good ear
- Time to really listen
- A hug where appropriate
- Continuing contact
What can help bereaved persons
- Contact the person as soon as you hear of the death. Tell them you are sorry to
hear of their loss, or send a card or flowers.
- Maintain contact personally or by telephone, notes, cards. Visits need not be long.
- LISTEN: This is possibly the most important thing you can do.
- Talk about the person who has died.
- Accept their behaviour i.e. crying, screaming, being quiet, laughing. Allow expressions
of anger, guilt and blame.
- Offer practical help, such as bringing in a cooked meal, taking care of the children,
cutting the grass, shopping.
- Really try to understand and accept the person. Everyone is different.
- Indicate that grief takes time.
- Include children in the grieving process.
- Be sensitive about dates that might be upsetting or significant for the bereaved
person, such as Christmas, anniversaries, birthdays, Father’s Day, etc.
What may not be helpful to bereaved persons
- Avoiding talking about the person who died unless the bereaved person does so.
- Inhibiting them by offering advice.
- Stopping contact with the person if the going gets too heavy.
- Lectures or reasoning.
- Expecting or judging how it should be.
- Using cliches.
- False reassurance.
- Saying “I know how you feel”.
- Trying to do everything for them.
- Comparing one loss to another.
- Describing the theory of grief.
- Taking the focus away from what they are saying.
- Equating a loss you have experienced to your friend’s loss.
- Giving details of your grief, unless the bereaved person finds this relevant to