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Good Grief Support - How Can I Help?
last updated:
Thu, 5/20/2010 12:47 PM

Most of us have experienced personal loss, but when we are the comforters instead of the mourners, we may be uncertain how to help. We worry that we will say or do the wrong thing. But, what can we do to help a grieving friend?

Show your support. Sending cards, making food and honoring the loved one with donations to their favorite charity are all ways to let the bereaved know you care.

Be available. Allow the mourner to talk—listen 80% of the time; talk 20% of the time.

Avoid clichés. Although well intentioned, phrases such as “I know how you feel” or “it was her time” negate the person’s strong feelings and may make the bereaved feel you do not care enough to hear his/her true feelings.

Realize that the grief process takes time. After the initial activity in the first few weeks following a death, the mourner often faces a tremendous void. This is an especially good time to be there for the bereaved as he/she faces the reality of the loss and increased feelings of loneliness.

Do not underestimate the value of presence. Sometimes we under-value the comfort of just “being”with a person who is mourning. Being comfortable with shared silence, offering a hug or just stopping for a cup of coffee shows that we care about them in the midst of their sadness.

Suggest professional help. There are signals that the bereaved may need more than time. Depression, persistent anxiety, substance abuse or deteriorating physical health may be signs that professional help is needed. The Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare Employee Assistance Program is the right place to call to find help. Your EAP counselors can help the greiving person find the right care. We are available to you at 901.683.5658.


Colleen Bonadio, LPC, CEAP is a Liscensed Professional Counselor with the Methodist Employee Assistance Program. All opinions expressed here are those of their authors and not of their employer. Information provided here is for medical education only. It is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice. Counselors are available to you at 901.683.5658.


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Methodist Healthcare is an integrated health care delivery system, dedicated to the art of healing through our faith-based commitment to minister to the whole person. 1211 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee 38104 • (901) 516-7000