You may be reading this series wondering how to help someone close to you, grieve the loss of their loved one. Some people have firm beliefs about the grieving process and what should and should not be done when assisting others. Generally speaking, there are some myths about grieving which should be considered when assisting the bereaved.

Myth: People who are grieving don’t want to talk about their loss, and bringing up the name of the deceased should be avoided.

Don’t be afraid to talk about the deceased or mention his/her name as it is probable that the bereaved person will want to talk about it.

Myth: Keep the bereaved person busy in order to avoid them thinking about the deceased.

If the bereaved person is kept too busy, the grieving process could be delayed. They need to have a healthy balance of alone time and time with people who can support them.

Myth: The grieving period is lasting too long and the person should be over it by now.

The grieving process is individual to each person and dependent on many things. These may include the type of relationship with the deceased together with the level of support available to the bereaved. Other stressors in the person’s life may also hinder the grieving process.

Myth: The bereaved person appears to be OK, so I will avoid any mention of their loss when I see them.

Some people feel very uncomfortable mentioning death or even being around people who are grieving. It is not only important to keep in contact with the bereaved, but to acknowledge the loss.

Myth: A person who is not showing signs of grieving is probably coping well.

Sometimes people avoid grieving publicly because they believe they have to be brave for the sake of others. By holding back their emotions, they are more than likely delaying the grieving process which can be unhealthy for their eventual recovery.

Many of us find talking to someone who is grieving, extremely difficult. It may be so difficult we decide to avoid the bereaved person for a period of time. Here is a list of helpful tips to remember.

  1. DO use the deceased person’s name
  2. DO talk about the deceased person. Keep memories alive by looking at photos, recognizing anniversaries and commemorating the person.
  3. DO share you feelings with the bereaved. Be honest about your fears of saying the wrong thing, but be there anyway.
  4. DO provide opportunities for the bereaved to express their feelings.
    DO be patient with the bereaved.
  5. DON’T use euphemisms like ‘passed away’.
  6. DON’T say things like “you must be brave” — people don’t have to be brave, they should be allowed to express their emotions.
  7. DON’T say “you should be better by now”. There is no timetable for grief.