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Kerry Siggins female leadership development coach


Helping Someone Who is Grieving

Being a Gentle Companion for Loved Ones who are Grieving

By Allison Gary, MA, LPC

  • Listen. Listen some more. And then listen even more. People may need to tell their story over and over as they process their grief and integrate this loss into their life.
  • Avoid clichés, religious platitudes or easy answers. While common phrases can feel helpful to say, often they are not helpful and can feel minimizing or dismissive.
  • Be sensitive and patient. Grief affects our minds, bodies and spirits. It takes time to learn to live in a “new normal.”
  • Be willing to show up. You don’t need to say anything profound or earthshaking, there is no “right” thing to say. Often, your greatest help is your quiet presence and simple deeds.
  • Provide a safe environment. It may be uncomfortable, but it can be of enormous help. Don’t try to fix, minimize or solve anything.
  • Initiate contact and activities. It is important to respect a person’s privacy and give them time alone but they may not have the energy to structure their lives after a significant loss. It’s helpful to have someone else initiate, and be okay if they say “no”.
  • Talk about the person who died. You won’t upset them or make them sad; they already are. Share your memories of the person who died, as you listen to their stories.
  • Be there after the first “wave” is over. After a loss, grievers get an overwhelming amount of contact, but over time that seems to stop. Make the effort to reach out, call, stop by or help out in other ways six months and a year, or longer, down the road. Offering your help, even if it feels like it’s been a long time, lets people know you remember them.
  • Find humor. Laughter can, indeed, be good medicine.
  • Watch for destructive behaviors. Loss can lead some people into deep depressions, alcohol or drug use, or even thoughts of ending their own lives. Be a loving and protective advocate for a grieving person.
  • Learn about grief. The more you know, the better you will be able to help. You are welcome to attend any programs or workshops with HeartLight Center that could be helpful to you. More educational resources available on our website: heartlightcenter.org

Grief is something that everyone experiences yet each loss and grief experience is as
unique as our fingerprints. Everyone grieves at their own pace and in their own way – that
doesn’t mean that anything is “wrong” with them, or with you. We grieve because we have

Grief is a normal human experience, and it is a process – something to tend to. Grief is not
something that people “get over” or that needs to be “fixed”. Some days will simply be
easier than others.

Grief can be challenging to some relationships, but please remember that now, more than
ever, people need caring and patient support of friends and family. Your true friendship,
companionship, kindness and patience can mean more than you may ever know.

    For the printable version of this article, click here!