After Care - Others
Helping Others Heal
Most people don't know what to do or say to bereaved individuals. Here are some suggestions that we have found from our own experience to be helpful:
- Be there. We tend to make ourselves available when a tragedy is fresh. People who are grieving need support for many months after the loss.
- Take the initiative. Many times the bereaved feel they are imposing and won't ask for help. Pay them a visit, send a card or letter, ask them to dinner.
- Encourage responsibility. Try not to take over tasks that the bereaved should do for themselves. Initially, the bereaved may need help in daily functions, but they should become less dependent as time goes on.
- Listen. Even if that means hearing the same story several times. We need to be willing to listen at any time.
- Allow emotion. Encourage the bereaved to express feelings - but do not try to force the tears. Each person responds differently to loss.
- Talk. A simple "I'm sorry" or "I care" is enough. This is not a time to sermonize. We need to admit feelings of inadequacy. "I'd like to help you, but I don't know what you need."
- Avoid trite sayings. Words like "He's better off" offer little comfort at the time of the loss.
- Remember the deceased. Talk about a time you shared with the deceased. It is helpful for the bereaved to realize that someone else misses the departed one, too.
- Discourage sedatives. The emotions of loss are painful, but they must be felt. Sedation will only delay the grief process and should be considered in only extreme cases and for short periods of time.
- Touch. Offer a hug or touch of the hand. Touching can say more than many words can.
- Suggest support resources. You can encourage the bereaved in their recovery by suggesting pastoral
counseling, books on the subject, and support groups. Attending group sessions with the bereaved may prove helpful.
- Pray. Offer prayer if it is appropriate. Let the bereaved know you are keeping them in your daily prayers.