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Providing Support for the Bereaved

There are many things you can do to help a bereaved person. These include:

  • Sending cards or flowers

  • Preparing food

  • Providing child care

  • Mowing the lawn

  • Contributing to a cause that is meaningful to the family

  • Offering transportation

Here are some things to think about when giving support:

  • Be available. Sometimes grieving people don't want to talk or listen. And they may not want you to talk or listen. They may just want you to be there for them. Silence is OK if that is what the bereaved person wants at the moment.

  • Allow the grieving person the full range of their emotions. This includes anger and bitterness, which may be sometimes expressed against the healthcare providers, God, or even the loved one who has died.

  • Be patient and understanding, but not patronizing. Don't claim to know how the other person is feeling. Don't force the person to talk or share feelings if they don't want to.

  • It's OK to talk about the person who died. Don't be worried about saying the deceased person's name or sharing a fond memory of the person when you are with the bereaved. They are also thinking about this person. It is acceptable and natural to bring the person's name into conversation.

  • Remember that grieving takes time. It is a natural human process. No matter how much you want to "stop the hurt," bereaved people must go through the grieving process. Let them grieve, and care for them as they move through the process.

Online Medical Reviewer: Louise Cunningham RN BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Todd Gersten MD
Date Last Reviewed: 12/1/2020
© 2000-2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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