Most of the time the intention is very good. We feel we must say something and use clichés or messages we imagine are going to cheer up the bereaved one. If you have doubts, don’t say anything innovative. Saying “I am sorry for your loss” is much better than a “cheer up” sentence trying to bring the good side of something, that in that moment, can hardly have a good side. In order to understand better what to do (and what not to do) here is a list of recommendations that might help:
– Be present: Call, Write a letter, an email, and schedule a visit
– Understand and accept that each one has his/her own way of going through grieving. There is no “normal” or “abnormal”
– Encourage the person to speak
– Be ready to listen
– Set and environment or circumstance in which the person can express him/herself
– Know that grieving can be very long, there’s no official deadline.
– Try to get in touch in difficult dates such as Christmas or birthdays
– Offer to do practical things: solving bank matters, picking up or taking children to school, help with the house, etc.
– Give small gifts to comfort: a cake, a vase of flowers, a card, and a book
– Recommend therapists, support groups or a website just like ours
It doesn’t help:
– To avoid or run away from bereaved ones
– To use phrases or expressions such as: “you will overcome this “or “time heals”, “it was better off this way”
– To compare losses.
– To imagine that losses or tragic situations can be a comfort somehow
– To think that it is ok not going to the funeral because you “don’t like theses things”
– To think that saying “at least she/he is not suffering anymore” will bring comfort to the bereaved one.
– To say anything that starts with “at least”
– To think that there is a hierarchy in grieving and that losing a grandma can be less painful than losing a mother
– Saying that it is time to go on, that they should have overcome already
– To find strange that the person doesn’t want to speak
– To make the person speak, to be intimidated or scared with possible angry reactions
– Underestimate how emotionally difficult it can be for you to give support to the bereaved one: remember to take care of yourself