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Helping someone who is bereaved

DO – show that you know what has happened: say how sorry you are, by letter or phone or as soon as you next see them. Sometimes a handshake or a touch on the arm is enough.
DO – attend the funeral if you knew the person who has died.
DO – let the bereaved person talk about their loss and express grief, as much or as often as they want. Going over and over what happened is a normal part of bereavement.
DO – however, accept that they may not want to discuss their loss or grief
DO – be patient and understanding, and encourage them to be patient and understanding with themselves.
DO – encourage them to take care of themselves – to eat and rest properly, and to see their doctor if they are worried about their health. Do the same for yourself if you are close to the bereaved person
DO – as the days/weeks go by …ask how they are feeling, or how they are coping
DO – remember that grieving may include feelings of shock, guilt or anger
DO – try to be yourself, nobody will expect you to be an expert on grief or have the answers
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DON’T – change the subject when bereaved people talk about their loss.
DON’T – say “I know how you feel”. Even if you have experienced a similar loss. Others will not feel exactly as you felt.
DON’T – try to soothe away the pain by saying “it was a merciful release”, “Time will heal” or “Try to think about something else”. However well meant, such remarks seldom help when grief is at its most intense. Everyone grieves in their own way and there is no timescale for grief
DON’T – give advice unless it is asked for.
DON’T – make offers of help you cannot keep.
DON’T – make assumptions about someone’s religious or similar beliefs
DON’T – assume that bereaved people should have got over the loss by a certain time. Grieving nearly always takes longer than we think.

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