Being a volunteer for a bereaved individual can be challenging at times. Knowing what to do and what to say can be difficult. These lists can help guide you through your visits.
Things To Do
- Be emotionally accessible.
- Be sensitive to nonverbal as well as verbal requests.
- Listen reflectively.
- Touch with respect.
- Give permission to grieve.
- Allow the person to grieve in his/her own way.
- Educate the person’s friends to offer support.
- Help the person discover who or what their support system is.
- Talk about initiatives.
- Talk openly about the deceased without evasion.
- Encourage the person to take care of himself/herself.
- Accept ambivalence.
- Realize that there are no wrong feelings.
- Permit the survivor to express feelings.
- Look for signs of high risk behaviors and make appropriate referrals.
- Accept silence and tears.
- Respect confidentiality.
- Keep the focus on the bereaved.
- Comfort the children in the family.
- Advise the postponement of major decisions.
- In time, encourage the mourner to resume former activities.
- Accept your own mortality.
Things NOT To Do:
- Give advice, words of wisdom or platitudes.
- Minimize loss by trying to cheer up survivors.
- Try to save survivor from grief and pain.
- Pass judgment on what the survivor says or feels.
- Tell about your own loss.