Supporting Bereaved Individuals

Loss is an inevitable part of life, whether of an individual, pet, job, or relationship. The grieving process for everyone can and will look different, therefore the ways in which people work through their grief and amount of time it takes to do so will vary. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you support individuals who have experienced loss.

Give space for the bereaved individual to share their grief in the way they need and want

Allowing individuals to communicate thoughts, stories, or feelings about their loss in a manner that fits and feels right to them provides the individual with the opportunity to express and share about their experience when they are ready. Sometimes individuals may not be ready to open up about their grief; they may want you to sit with them in silence or do an activity with them that they need in the moment. The key here involves letting the person indicate their needs without any judgment, pressure, or expectations from you. 

Listen with care and compassion

Paying attention to the words, tone, and facial expressions of the bereaved individual can help you focus on the content that they share with you and actively listen. This involves setting aside your advice on the grieving process, personal experiences with grief and loss, or feelings and thoughts on the loss experienced. Listening requires you to be present with the person, wherever they are in their process, and attend to them with a caring and empathetic attitude. The most important aspect to remember is refraining from giving unsolicited advice and judging the individual’s response to the loss. 

Ask the individual how you can support them

Seeking the bereaved person’s input on how you can show up for them is a simple way of finding out what they need from you. They may share that they need your help with an errand or a household chore. Getting this information directly from them will help you understand how you can best show up and support them through this challenging time.

While loss and grief can be a difficult subject to discuss, acknowledging the loss with the bereaved individual and letting them know that you are available to listen to them can go a long way. 

If you seek assistance navigating grief and loss, please call us at our offices in Cary, Apex, or Fuquay-Varina.

Janice Cuaresma

Mental Health Student Intern