Cruse Bereavement support have answered some of the most common questions and concerns people have when dealing with grief. Follow the below link for more information.
How you can help a bereaved person
People who have been bereaved may want to talk about the person who has died. One of the most helpful things you can do is simply listen, and give them time and space to grieve. Offering specific practical help − not vague general offers − can also be very helpful.
Do. . .
Be there for the person who is grieving. . .
Pick up the phone, write a letter/email, call by or arrange to visit. Don’t avoid, ignore or ‘cross the road’.
Accept that everyone grieves in their own way – there is no ‘normal’ way
Accept and acknowledge all feelings. Let the grieving person know that it’s okay to cry in front of you, to get angry, or to break down. Don’t try to tell them how they should or shouldn’t feel. The bereaved should feel free to express their feelings, without fear of judgement, argument or criticism.
Offer comfort and reassurance without minimizing the loss
Tell the bereaved that what they’re feeling is okay. If you’ve gone through a similar loss, share your own experience if you think it would help. However, don’t give unsolicited advice, claim to “know” what the person is feeling, or compare your grief to theirs.
Accept that you can’t make it better
Your instinct may be to try and make things better for the bereaved family; instead, give your condolences, and then be quiet. Don’t use clichés: ‘I understand how you feel’; ‘You’ll get over it’; ‘Time heals.’ If you get halfway through saying the wrong thing, just stop. No one will ask you to finish.
Encourage the person to talk if they want to
Let the bereaved talk about their loved one, including how they died. People who are grieving may need to tell the story over and over again, sometimes in minute detail. Be patient. Repeating the story is a way of processing and accepting the death. With each retelling, the pain lessens.
What to say to a bereaved person
Offering specific help, according to the particular circumstances, may also be very useful in helping recognise they are not alone with their particular issue.
- Offer your condolences: “I’m sorry …”
- Be fully present for the person who is grieving
by listening intently
- If the bereaved person begins to cry, give your permission for them to do this in a gentle manner: “It’s okay, I’m comfortable with tears.”
- Be aware that grief can take a long time to process. Some people have a need to repeat parts of their story to help make sense of it
- Listen out for cues to respond. Convey empathy rather than sympathy. Ensure they can ‘sense’ your empathy through facial expressions, sensitive manner, tone of voice, etc.
- If you feel the bereaved person would benefit from having information about support which is beyond your remit, pass on appropriate details about Cruse Bereavement Care and other charities (see links and contacts)
Top tips for managers
Be caring and compassionate
Offer your condolences
Ensure the bereaved employee knows they need not come to work on the day of the death, and that work comes second
Ask how much information they want co-workers to know, and if they wish to be contacted by colleagues
Stay in regular contact
When the employee is ready to return to work, consider adjustments that may be needed, such as a phased return to work or temporary change of duties
On return, hold regular reviews with the bereaved employee
Ignore the situation
Assume you know how the bereaved employee is feeling – every bereavement is unique
Say anything that may minimise or undermine the loss, such as ‘we all have to go sometime’
Say anything to make light of bereavement, such as ‘time will heal’
Make the assumption that just because they are back at work they are ‘over it’ and ‘back to normal’
Bereavement video resources
Bereavement by suicide
Bereavement by suicide shares characteristics with other bereavements and it is also different. The grieving process is often complicated and can last longer than other types of bereavement.
Please see below a document that was written by the Staff Psychology Team that details how bereavement by suicide can affect a person.