Helping Others through the Grieving Process
It is difficult to know the right things to do and say to comfort a grieving person. Sometimes what we think will help can, instead, be hurtful, even with the best intentions. The best thing to do is to be open and supportive in their time of need.
- Listen. Be available for the bereaved, even if they don't feel like talking. When they do, listen to what they say and be supportive as they work through their grief.
- Be patient with their grieving process. The stages, moods, reactions, and lengths vary from person to person. Allow them to take the time that they need to grieve fully.
- Be sensitive to holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and other special days. Stay in contact with the grieving individual even after the initial stages have passed.
- Compare their loss to another's loss. Comparisons minimize the loss, and suggest that the grieving individual should be mourning in a prescribed way. Their loss and their grief are specific to them.
- Encourage grieving people to make major changes such as moving or changing jobs. Extreme grief clouds judgment. Wait to make big decisions until a more emotionally stable time.
- Use clichés, such as "time heals all wounds." They will learn to live with the loss over time, but the wound of loss will never really heal.
- Suggest that the individual can replace the one they've lost. Never say things like, "You can have another baby," or "You'll find someone else." This painfully minimizes their loss.
- Try to force an end to the grieving process or to push them to accept the loss before they're ready. Everyone moves through their grief at different rates. Allow the grief to run its course.