Sunday, August 28, 2011

10 ways you can help a bereaved person

You cannot "fix" it but you can:
  1 say "I'm here for you" and be there
  2 show you care
  3 offer practical support
  4 don't take anger personally
  5 be patient - allow silences
  6 listen and accept strong emotions
  7 don't say you know or understand unless you really do
  8 avoid platitudes: it's God's will, etc.
  9 allow them to talk of their loved one, and speak their name
10 take care of yourself know your limits

I really appreciate this particular list for its open-endedness, which invites thoughtful interpretation to act within what feels appropriate for you and the bereaved person in your life.

Grief and bereavement comes in different forms, wearing different faces. I think deep down, even when it might appear the person before you doesn't know this, we do all know this. Sometimes we forget, is all. There are so many emotions from all sides when a death occurs.

That is why I am always on the look-out for a good dot-point list. There are many, scores of them, online. But where are they when you need them? And where are the good ones?? I want to add my list of top 10 to the throng, as it is one that resonates with me. It is not a list I made up, but one I came across last week in a waiting room. It is from The Compassionate Friends, an organisation that brings together mutual support and self-help models for those whose son or daughter has died (at any age).

As with any group or support organisation, it's not for everyone but it could just be for you. In my time, I have availed myself of the services (quietly, usually via online means and searching as I strived to heal) of the most widely known grief support services in Australia - SIDS & Kids, SANDS, Bonnie Babes (now the Small Miracles Foundation) and most often, I found myself visiting various websites of The Compassionate Friends: A world wide family supporting bereaved parents and siblings.

You can find out more about TCF by visiting their Victorian-based website or Freecall 1800 641 091. They offer 24 hour grief support within Australia, with support contacts in each state.
They are also in the UK and USA.

Ellanor & Me - 2004
Her fragile, beautifully delicate little fingers hurt my heart

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