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

  1. Be emotionally accessible.
  2. Be sensitive to nonverbal as well as verbal requests.
  3. Listen reflectively.
  4. Touch with respect.
  5. Give permission to grieve.
  6. Allow the person to grieve in his/her own way.
  7. Educate the person’s friends to offer support.
  8. Help the person discover who or what their support system is.
  9. Talk about initiatives.
  10. Talk openly about the deceased without evasion.
  11. Encourage the person to take care of himself/herself.
  12. Accept ambivalence.
  13. Realize that there are no wrong feelings.
  14. Permit the survivor to express feelings.
  15. Look for signs of high risk behaviors and make appropriate referrals.
  16. Accept silence and tears.
  17. Respect confidentiality.
  18. Keep the focus on the bereaved.
  19. Comfort the children in the family.
  20. Advise the postponement of major decisions.
  21. In time, encourage the mourner to resume former activities.
  22. Accept your own mortality.

Things NOT To Do:

  1. Give advice, words of wisdom or platitudes.
  2. Minimize loss by trying to cheer up survivors.
  3. Try to save survivor from grief and pain.
  4. Pass judgment on what the survivor says or feels.
  5. Tell about your own loss.