Here are some tips and ideas to help you support someone who has been bereaved, whether it is a member of your family, a friend or work colleague.
- Be there for the person - call them, write a letter or simply send a text message. Don’t avoid them.
- Accept that everyone grieves in their own way. Let the person know that it is okay for them to cry in front of you, or get angry or breakdown. They should feel able to express their feelings, without fear of judgement, argument or criticism.
- Encourage the person to talk if they want to. People who are grieving often find it helpful to talk about their loved one and might feel the need to tell their story over and over again.
- Listen and offer comfort by being there. They may not feel like talking so offer comfort by being silent with them. Offer eye contact, a squeeze of the hand or a reassuring hug.
- Be aware grief can take a long time. Contact the person who has been bereaved at difficult times such as anniversaries and birthdays. Being there and sending them a card will show them you are thinking of them.
- Offer practical support. Small practical gestures can make a big difference - cook a meal, take their children out for a walk or do simple domestic chores like the washing up or cleaning.
- Avoid using clichés like “I understand how you feel”, “You will get over it” or “Time heals”. These are not helpful and can be very upsetting.
- Help them keep a person’s memory alive - talk about them and their memories; arrange an album of photos; organise a memory box with some of their special possessions; help them plant a tree, pay for a park bench or making a donation to a charity to commemorate the person.