Consoling the Bereaved

The best gift a friend can give to a friend who just lost someone they love is the permission to grieve. Do not force a grieving person to return to a normal life before he or she is ready. Allow him or her to go at their own pace, but provide encouragement and emotional support to enhance his or her healing process.

Often finding the right words, fear of saying the wrong ones, and perhaps a lack of direct understanding, leave many people uncomfortable reaching out to a grieving friend. Often, we feel responsible for alleviating or creating additional pain for our friends in mourning. In doing so, we fail to realize the loss of a loved one cannot be enhanced or relieved by words. Bereavement is a process and friends can offer support and a listening ear, but there is no way to take away the pain from the person who has experienced the death of someone they love. Rather than worry about what to say to a grieving friend, friends should be receptive to the needs of the bereaved and offer assistance whenever possible.

Helping During the Early Stages

Listen
Take time to sit down with a grieving friend and ask about their deceased loved one. They will be more than willing to share their favourite memories. You should also be content with silence. Sometimes the grieving find it too difficult to talk but find comfort in having a friend close by.

Ask How You Can Help
Offer to take over as many simple tasks as possible. Even small jobs can add to the stress of a grieving person. Offer to pick up family members from the airport for the funeral. Bring over a warm meal. Take the dog for a walk. There are many things that you can offer to do that may seem insignificant at the time, however they can be an enormous help to your grieving friend.

Be Prepared to Mention the Deceased’s Name
Mentioning the deceased’s name in conversation makes it easier for everyone to talk about the death. Grieving people need to feel like their loved one has not been forgotten.

Phone or Visit Regularly
Pick up the phone regularly and call your grieving friend to see how he of she is doing. Place a call within a couple days of the funeral to let your friend know you are always free to talk. Follow-up with your friend every few days to see if they need help with anything.
Helping During the Later Stages

Involve A Grieving Person
Invite your friend to social occasions so they have the opportunity to meet new friends and get their mind off their loss. Plan new activities together so both of you have something to look forward to.

Remember Holidays and Anniversaries
Holidays and anniversaries are the hardest times for people suffering from grief. This is a time when the grieving person will focus on their loss and can re-live the immediate pain of their loss. Plan ahead and invite them to your home or make a visit to their home to wish them a happy holiday. Let them know that they have many friends and family members ready to help them through these difficult days.

Danger Signs
While grieving is a necessary and healthy process, individuals can go to extremes. If a grieving person demonstrates any of these signs, they may need professional help. Communities, religious centres, funeral homes and healthcare organisations have grief counselling programs or support groups.

  • Weight loss
  • Substance abuse
  • Depression
  • Prolonged sleep disorders
  • Talk about suicide
  • Lack of personal hygiene