Helping after a death | The Salvation Army

You are here

Helping after a death

Do's and don'ts following a bereavement.
Sympathy in bereavement
Posted July 5, 2012

The things to do to help someone after a bereavement:

· Acknowledge the loss with a call, card or letter. By writing a letter you’re ‘off ering handwritten hugs where human arms cannot reach’. · If possible, visit or attend the funeral—this shows you care.
· Simply say, ‘I’m so sorry’, ‘Words fail me’, or ‘I share a bit of your grief’.
· Convey your sympathy through tears, a warm embrace, an arm around a shoulder, a squeeze of the hand—words aren’t always necessary.
· Give the mourner permission to grieve.
· Listen non-judgementally to the person’s thoughts and feelings.
· Allow them to talk about their deceased loved ones. · Ask open-ended questions like ‘What happened?’ to invite the grieving person to express themself.
· Tell them you’ll remember them in your prayers.
· Offer practical assistance. · Share a pleasant memory or words of admiration for the deceased.
· Remember the grieving person on signifi cant days, especially ‘fi rsts’. · Remember that grief is long-lasting and that nothing you can say will stop a grieving person’s pain.

· Avoid the grieving person because you don’t know what to say.
· Say ‘Don’t cry’ or ‘be brave’. This may cause them to repress sad feelings.
· Use clichés, trite statements or euphemisms such as ‘He’s at rest’, ‘Be glad it’s over’, ‘Time heals all wounds’, or ‘The Lord knows best.’
· Be afraid of tears. · Say, ‘I know how you feel.’ Each person’s grief is unique and no one can totally understand another person’s grief.
· Change the subject when they talk about a loved one.
· Tell the grieving person that his or her loss is ‘God’s will’. Most grieving people are troubled by that statement, but are too polite to say so.
· Try to answer the question, ‘Why?’
· Encourage the grieving person to ‘get over it’ because of your discomfort with their sorrow.

Source: Helping People Through Grief by Delores Kuenning (Bethany House)