How to mourn with those that mourn

From her 10 years as a hospice chaplain and bereavement counselor, author Sue Bergin shares this list of what to do—or not do—to support grieving friends or family.

  • Don't assume you have to talk. A hug or a squeeze of the hand can be more comforting than words.

  • Don't tell your own grief story unless asked.

  • Don't offer advice—of any kind.

  • Don't assume that if someone believes in an afterlife, they will have less need to grieve.

  • Don't say things like "He's in a better place" or "At least her suffering is over." Any sentence that begins with the phrase "at least" is received as minimizing and isn't comforting.

  • Don't impose your personal beliefs about death and the afterlife on the griever.

  • Do give grievers your full, focused attention.

  • Do share your memories of the loved one and encourage grievers to share theirs.

  • Do invite grievers to short, low-intensity activities, such as lunch, family night, or a walk or bike ride.

  • Do allow a griever to express his or her honest feelings, including anger at God and anger at the deceased.

  • Do share a book or other resource that has helped you with grief.

This article was adapted from "Families That Grieve Together..." by M. Sue Bergin, BYU Magazine, Spring 2016

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