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How to Support a Grieving Person

Losing someone you love is life changing. It is one of the most painful and devastating experiences a human being can endure.

Below are some simple tips that can help you support a grieving person:

  • Have a warm and welcoming environment. This makes people feel comfortable and safe.
  • If a person starts to share their story, make the time to listen (when someone is grieving, sharing their story is very healing). Grief is often silenced out of fear of upsetting the person, therefore people will avoid grieving people at all costs.
  • Be empathetic – Emotion researchers generally define empathy as the ability to sense other people’s emotions, coupled with the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling.
  • Be genuine in your communication with the person and don’t hide your feelings. It’s OK to feel another person’s pain and express it openly. This shows them that you have the ability to empathise with their current circumstances.
  • Normalise their grief you may say something like, “crying a lot is a normal grief reaction” or “your overwhelming feelings of sadness are normal” or “You keep saying you miss your dad, this is normal for a grieving person”
  • Explore their support network (who is currently supporting them). It may be helpful to explore the positive people that are supporting them and encourage they reach out to them.
  • Explore whether they are currently seeking counselling and whether this may be something they want to consider.
  • Offer a referral if you are concerned about the person (doctor or counsellor)
  • Have a verbal contract to follow up with them if you are really concerned about their well-being and if you have recommended, they see a doctor or counsellor.

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