What Should I Say?

What Should I Say? Offering Support to Someone Who Is Grieving

After a loved one has passed away, individuals may experience a variety of emotions. As a friend or family member, you may be struggling trying to find the right words or actions to help support someone who is grieving.

Barnabas Health Home Care offers the following suggestions when providing for the bereaved:

  • Be available. Sometimes, when people are grieving, they do not want to talk or listen, nor do they want you to talk or listen. They simply want you to be there for them.
  • Allow the grieving person the full range of his or her emotions, including anger and bitterness, which may sometimes be expressed against the doctors, God or even the loved one who has died.
  • Be patient and understanding, but not patronizing. Do not claim to know how the other person is feeling. Do not force the person to talk or share feelings if he or she does not want to.
  • Do not be concerned about mentioning the deceased person's name or sharing a fond memory of the person while in the company of the bereaved. They, too, are thinking about their loved one, so it is acceptable and natural to bring the name into conversation.
  • Remember that grieving takes time and is a natural human process. No matter how much you want to "stop the hurt," the bereaved must endure the grieving process. Allow them time and care for them as they move through it.

While grieving is a process that has no time table, it is important to be aware of how grief is impacting daily life and to know that help is at hand. At some point, it may be helpful to seek bereavement counseling for assistance.

For information about the bereavement programs offered by Barnabas Health Hospice and Barnabas Health Van Dyke Hospice, email or call pdevi@barnabashealth.org 973-322-4817 (northern New Jersey and Monmouth County) or kbrommeland@barnabashealth.org 732-818-6826 (Ocean County).

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