Helpful Tools

Guidelines for Family and Friends

Family and friends mean well but sometimes they do not know how to treat you while you are grieving. Here is a list of guidelines that you may want to share with them:

Guidelines for Family and Friends 

  • Tears are the jewels of remembrance, sad but glistening with the beauty of the past.
  • Allow the grieving person to cry. Tears are healthy.
  • Children, allow your parents to cry. Cry with them. You'll all feel better.
  • Let the bereaved person talk about his/her loved one. You talk and say the loved one's name too. 
  • Don't make small talk trying to cheer the person. 
  • Don't tell the bereaved to smile; he/she may not see anything to smile about.
  • Being bereaved is not a disease, and it's not catchy.
  • Bereaved persons need to be needed and need support.
  • Don't give advice such as, "sell the house, it's too big for you."
  • Don't question every move or say you should do this or that.
  • Call often, and ask if there is something you can do. (Be prepared for the request. Be available to listen often.)
  • When there is a birthday or anniversary of either the spouse or widowed, call and say you know it's a difficult day, but you're thinking of him/her. Ignoring the day only makes it worse.
  • Read about grief so you can better understand what the bereaved person is experiencing.
  • Don't say, "I know just how you feel."
  • Don't use platitudes like "life is for the living" or "it's God's will." It's better to say nothing, or to simply say "I'm sorry" or "I care."
  • Recognize that the bereaved person may be angry; help him/her acknowledge his/her anger and express it in ways that are not hurtful to him/her or others.
  • Don't say, "It's been four months/eight months/one year/etc. You must be over it by now." There is no timetable for grief.
  • Suggest exercise to help the bereaved work off bottled tension and anger. This may help the bereaved to relax and it may aid sleep. Offer to join the bereaved in going for a walk, a swim or a sport.
  • Be aware of good nutrition and the lack of motivation to prepare food and eat well. Help the bereaved with meal preparation, share a meal with the bereaved, or invite him/her out to eat.
  • Don't avoid the bereaved. This adds to his/her loss.
  • Practice continuing acts of thoughtfulness to the bereaved. Take the initiative in calling him/her.

It Helps to Have a Friend Who Will Listen -  Author Unknown 

"When I ask you to listen to me and you start giving me advice, you have not done what I asked. 

When I ask you to listen to me and you begin to tell me why I shouldn't feel that way, you are trampling on my feelings. 

When I ask you to listen to me and you feel you have to do something to solve my problems, you have failed me, strange as that may seem. 

Listen! All I asked was that you listen, not talk or do-just hear me.

Advice is cheap; twenty cents will get you both Dear Abby and Billy Graham in the same newspaper.

And I can do for myself. I'm not helpless. Maybe discouraged and faltering, but not helpless.

When you do something for me that I can and need to do for myself, you contribute to my fear and inadequacy.

But when you accept as a simple fact that I do feel what I feel, no matter how irrational, then I can quit trying to convince you and can get about this business of understanding what's behind this irrational feeling.

And when that's clear, the answers are obvious and I don't need advice.  Irrational feelings make sense when we understand what's behind them.

Perhaps that's why prayer works, sometimes, for some people-because God is mute and doesn't give advice or try to fix things.

He just listens and lets you work it out for yourself.

So please listen and just hear me.

And if you want to talk, wait a minute for your turn-and I'll listen to you."

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