Is there anything I can do to help?
Yes, there is much that you can do. You can:
1. Get in touch. Telephone. Ask when you can visit and how you might help.
2. Say little on the first visit. Before the burial, a brief embrace, a press of the hand, a few words of affection may be all that is needed.
3. Avoid cliches such as He/she is out of pain and Aren't you lucky that - A simple I'm sorry is better.
4. Be yourself. Show concern and sorrow in your own way.
5. Keep in touch. Be available.
6. Attend to practical matters. Offer to help answer the phone, usher in callers, prepare meals, clean the house and care for the children. This kind of help lifts burdens and creates a bond.
7. Encourage others to visit and help.
8. Accept silence. If the mourner doesn't feel like talking, don't force conversation. Silence is better than aimless chatter.
9. Be a good listener. This is the one thing the bereaved needs above all else. Is she emotional? Accept that. Does he cry? Accept that too. Is she angry at God? Accept whatever feelings are expressed.
10. Do not attempt to tell the bereaved how he or she feels. To say, for example, You must feel relieved now that he is out of pain, is presumptuous. Even to say, I know just how you feel, is questionable. Learn from the mourner; do not instruct.
11. Do not probe for details about the death. If the survivor offers information, listen with understanding.
12. Comfort children in the family. Do not assume that a seemingly calm child is not sorrowing. Be a friend to whom feelings can be confided and with whom tears can be shed. In most cases, children should be left in the home and not shielded from the grieving of others.
13. Avoid talking to others about trivia in the presence of the recently bereaved.
14. Allow the working through of grief. Do not whisk away clothing or hide pictures. Do not criticize seemingly morbid behavior.