Grief: What to Do

  • Posted on May 17, 2013 at 9:56 pm

List compiled from many sources by Jeff Ketts

Everyone expresses their grief in different ways. Some find comfort in one thing, while another person may not. Below is a list of things that it has been suggested that will help support someone who is in grief.

What to Do

DO Allow them to express as much grief as they are able and are willing to share with you.

DO allow them to express as much unhappiness as they are feeling and willing to share with you.

DO allow them to talk about their loss as much and as often as they want to.

DO be available. to listen, to run errands, to help with the other children, or whatever else seems needed at the time.

DO deal with the grieving individual gently and positively.

DO encourage them to be patient with themselves and not to expect too much of themselves.

DO encourage them to not impose any “shoulds” or “I should be” on themselves.

DO give special attention to the child’s brothers and sisters at the funeral and in the months to come (they are often in need of attention which their parents may not be able to give).

DO let your genuine concern and caring show.

DO offer specific help such as running errands, helping complete tax or medical forms, or helping to go through their loved one’s belonging.

DO offer to be a friend.

DO recognize that grieving has no time limit and varies from individual to individual both in the way they express their grief and the time required to stabilize.

DO talk about your memories of the deceased child and the special qualities that made the child endearing.

DO tell the family how sorry you are about the child’s death and about the pain they must be feeling.

Acknowledge the death through visits, phone calls, sympathy cards, donations, and flowers.

Remember important days such as birthdays, the death anniversary, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and any other significant day, which may be difficult for the bereaved. A telephone call, visit, or card means a great deal to a bereaved parent.

Make specific offers to help, i.e.

  1. I am going to the store. What do you need?
  2. Can I take your kids on Sunday afternoon?
  3. On Thursday I will be bringing by dinner for the family.
  4. I will take your child to skating lessons on Sunday.
  5. Can I come and baby-sit tomorrow evening to give you a break.
  6. Do you want to get out tonight to talk, walk, or both.
  7. Offer to take the children to schools, birthday parties, and extra-curricular programs.

Immediately following the loss, take charge of the household and inform family and friends of the tragedy, help answer the phone, help dress and feed the children (if applicable), and set up a meal plan.

Call. Call often.

When you call the bereaved, ask, “How are you doing today?”

Appreciate that your bereaved relative or friend doesn’t always return phone calls right away.

Appreciate that nothing you say will ever make the bereaved parent sadder than the reality of what has happened to their child.

Talk in your natural tone of voice.

Remember that when you phone, even if it is to only leave a message, the bereaved feel comforted by your efforts.

Tell the bereaved family how much you care.

Remember it is usually the simple little things you say or do that mean so much.

Listen. Continue to support bereaved parents well beyond the acute mourning period, even if it means years..

Congratulate the bereaved on good news while appreciating that they still carry a tremendous burden of grief.

Find local support through bereavement groups, church, synagogue, bereavement organizations and forward the information to the bereaved family.

Be sensitive that being in the presence of other children of similar age to the deceased may make the bereaved parent uncomfortable.

Give the bereaved time to resume the activities they participated in before their loss.

Know that effort of any kind is appreciated.

Learn how to give good hugs. The bereaved need every heartfelt hug they can get.

Expect your relationship with the bereaved to change. When you are bereaved, every relationship is affected in one way or another.

Share your own good news with the bereaved. They still want to hear it.

Do say “Call me at any time if you ever need to talk.”

Do say “I can’t begin to imagine how you feel.”

Do say “I am so sorry for your loss.”

Feed and walk the dog who has probably been forgotten about.

Talk to your children about the loss.

Talk to your children about death and the rituals surrounding death.

Find the right time and the right materials to broach the discussion of loss and bereavement with your children.

Consult with your libraries and bookstores for bereavement reading materials for children.

Provide your surviving children with a picture of the departed child as a cherished momento.

Give children the option to attend the funeral.

Give children the option of visiting at the cemetery.

We Need Not Walk Alone….We Are The Compassionate Friends

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