Loss, Grief & Bereavement: What to do and say
Loss may take many forms from infertility, miscarriage, child, parent or pet death as well as the ending of a relationship, marriage, job or friendship. People experience various levels of pain and have different abilities and resources to cope and handle loss.
How to help:
- Listen with compassion and accept all emotions
- Be willing to sit in silence and hold a hand
- Offer practical specific support , for example “on Tuesday I’ll go grocery shopping for you”
- Offer ongoing support by checking in on the person
- Remember special dates
Miscarriage is typically a socially unrecognized loss that leaves couples few outlets for formal grieving. They still need support during their loss.
Appropriate Responses for Pregnancy loss
- “I don’t know what to say” or “I’m sorry”
- Treat the loss the same as the death of any human - send flowers, sympathy cards or help out
- Don’t forget the dad
AVOID CLICHÉ Responses
These minimize a person’s pain and are often hurtful, do not say things such as:
- “Everything happens for a reason”
- “Thank goodness you are young, you can still have more”
- “It’s better that it happened now instead of later"
- “It was meant to be, something was probably wrong with it and it’s better”
- “At least you have children at home”
- “You are so strong, I could never handle this.”
Myths & Facts about Grief
- Myth: Pain will go away faster if you ignore it. In fact, this makes it worse, a person needs to talk about and come to accept the loss. This process is very individual
- MYTH: One must be strong in the face of loss. In fact feeling sad, frightened and lonely are normal reactions and don’t mean that you are weak but rather human.
- MYTH: If you don’t cry you haven’t mourned. Mourning is a very individual and there is no right or wrong way. It’s important to respect an individual’s way of grieving.
- MYTH: Grief should last a year. There is no appropriate amount of mourning or a fixed time when the mourning will end
When to get help
If someone is showing difficulty in daily functioning, is not taking care of him/herself, isolating from people or using alcohol or sleeping pills excessively this is a warning sign that they may need help with the grieving process. If a person is talking about suicide it is important to take it seriously and get them immediate help. Counseling may be a helpful way for a person to process through the pain of loss and manage the first task of grief which is accepting the loss. All in the Family Counselling specializes in grief and bereavement counseling.
All in the Family Counselling
20 Malacca Street, Level 9 Malacca Centre
MRT: Raffles Place