Quick Ways to Help the Bereaved

Here’s a quick short list on helping a friend or family member who is going through grief. Periodically, I will add to this list.

caring for the bereaved

  • Everyone grieves differently. Respect each person’s process.

Understand that grief does not have an expiration date and saying “get over it” or expecting someone to is more harmful than helpful.

  • Sending a “checking in” or “thinking of you” text or card uplifts the spirit.
  • Most bereaved people appreciate a phone call. You are a living, breathing voice. This is is especially true for someone who lives alone. Please keep in mind that if the person does not pick up, calling or leaving a voicemail is perfectly fine. The thought means more than you know and is an invitation to reach out to you later when ready.

The best thing you could ever do for a person who is experiencing grief is acknowledging how he or she feels.

  • Having hard, murky feelings validated works wonders. I understand it’s hard knowing what to say when someone is grieving because nothing seems adequate. Just know that allowing someone to speak their grief with you as their listener is enough. This not only provides comfort, but offers healing.
  • Saying “how are you today?” or “how are you in this moment?” is much easier to answer than “how are you?” The bereaved can be overwhelmed and grieved overall, but in that particular moment or day, can be doing well. Sometimes it helps to focus on the present moment.

Speak the deceased’s name.

  • Often, talking about the person who died, mentioning their name, or asking if the bereaved person wants to share a memory helps. Trust me, the one grieving has not forgotten about their person. You can’t remind them of who’s already consuming their mind. It’s usually when the deceased are not mentioned that the bereaved’s pain is deepened as this further erases that person from their life.
  • Whatever you do, there are a few things you should never ever say to someone experiencing grief. You study and memorize these “don’t do’s.” Read the article What Not to Say to Someone Who’s Grieving.
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