Someone who is grieving the death of a loved one has experienced a profound and sometimes unexpected loss. They are likely managing a range of emotions including shock, guilt, deep sadness, anger and more.
Listening can be hard. We often want to provide words of comfort but being quiet and simply listening can be very powerful and may be exactly what the mourner needs most. It’s also important to accept and acknowledge the other person’s feelings, even if they are different than what you think you might feel or have felt when mourning a loss in your life.
Avoid clichés. Statements like “He’s in a better place” or “At least you have other children” can be hurtful.
Do not claim to know how the person is feeling and do not talk about your own experiences of loss. It may be helpful to you to make these connections, but not necessarily helpful to share with them at this time.
Instead of offering vague help such as “let me know what you need”, prepare/provide meals that can be frozen for a later date and take care of daily household needs as mourners may not know in that moment what will be most helpful to them or may feel that they are being a burden on you if they do tell you what they need.
Maintain contact with the mourner in the days, weeks and months following the loss and invite opportunities for them to share memories about their loved one. Too often mourners feel that no-one wants to hear those stories or talk about the deceased. Show them you care by continuing to listen and remember with them.