Guidelines for Helping Someone Who is Mourning
Friends often ask themselves questions, such as: What should I do? What should I say? Am I doing the right thing? What can I do better? Here are some suggestions for helping the person in grief:
- Take some kind of action. Make a phone call, send a card, give a hug, attend the funeral, help with practical matters (e.g., meals, care of children).
- Be available. Allow the person time so that there is no sense of “urgency” when you visit or talk.
- Be a good listener. Accept the words and feelings expressed, avoid being judgmental or taking their feelings personally. Avoid telling them what they should feel or what they should do.
- Don’t minimize the loss and avoid giving clichés and easy answers. Don’t be afraid to talk about the loss (i.e., the deceased, the ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend, the disability, etc.).
- Allow the bereaved person to grieve for as long or short of a time as needed. Be patient. There are no shortcuts.
- Encourage the bereaved to care for themselves. They need to attend to physical needs, postpone major decisions, and allow themselves to grieve and recover.
- Acknowledge and accept your own limitations. Many situations can be hard to handle, but can be made easier with the help of outside resources – books, workshops, support groups, other friends, or professionals.
Posted by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise” available online at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Love-Never-LPC-S-Larry-Barber/dp/1613796005 ), Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-never-dies-lpc-s-ct-larry-m-barber-ct-larry-m/1104364890?ean=9781613796016).
The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa”
Both English and Spanish versions are available for Kindle and Nook. Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX http://grief-works.org.