Sadly when it comes to these times in our lives, we don’t always understand what to do or say to be helpful. One of the most common questions that intimate friends and family members ask themselves is, “Am I intruding?” Which is okay, because the last thing anyone wants to do is to bother those in mourning.
However most people tend to stay away or avoid calling as they simply just do not know what to say. Quite the contrary is required of you. A phone call and a visit or absolute musts for friends or loved ones in grieving.
Those in mourning need support, and the help of close friends and family can be of tremendous comfort. Using kindness and sensitivity with those closest to the bereaved can help to make the first days and weeks after a death less traumatic.
There are many rules of etiquette for loss that help to support the grieving appropriately. We will look at a few ways one can help a family during these difficult times.
Usually you should pay a visit within the first week. If you’re very close to the family, you should do it immediately. A sympathy or condolence call or visit is when one goes to the home of the grieving family to pay respects to the deceased and offers support.
Some common ways to show support during this time, include helping with the following:
Cooking, babysitting, contacting loved ones, carpooling, helping to make funeral arrangements and keeping the home neat and tidy (especially since there will be a lot of visitors in and out of the house) are all activities that can help the family in mourning navigate the first days and weeks after a death.
When you are paying a visit make sure you don’t overstay your welcome. Usually 20 – 30 minute stay is long enough to pay one’s respects unless you are a close friend, in which case an hour or three would be appropriate. If requested to stay beyond twenty minutes by the family of the deceased, you could choose to stay longer. It is important to be sensitive to the family’s verbal and nonverbal social cues.
Lastly, you want to speak kindly and sympathetically to the family. Listen actively and allow the family to discuss how they are feeling. This is a time of remembrance, so make sure your communication stays positive by avoiding these terrible cliches’:
- How did he die?
- Her death was a gift because she was suffering.
- I went through exactly what you are going through when my mother died…
- It could have been worse…
- It is a blessing that he was taken so quickly.
Nobody is comfortable making conversation during times of extreme stress and grieving, however it is your job to listen and let the family grieve.
We hope that our tips on giving sympathy to the bereaved will help you and those that you love, remember that those in mourning really do need your help, support and comfort. Grieving and mourning will last a very long time, however your kind well chosen comforting words will go a long way to helping those suffering bereavement.