FAQs

Care Questions (1)

What home care can I get for my elderly parent?

Your elderly parent may begin to require some assistance but would prefer to remain in their home. The extent of the assistance will vary depending on the individual and depending on the situation your family or friends may be able to provide the required assistance. In more complex cases, outside help may be required. Typical areas of assistance may include:

Meals

Your parent may be able to make themselves breakfast and lunch but may not be able to make dinner. You may need to help them make these meals or help them with the weekly grocery shopping. However, if you do not live close to your parent or if schedules do not permit, this may be difficult to do. One option would be ‘Meals on Wheels’ or a similar program that provides a nutritious meal delivered right to their home for a modest cost.

Transportation

If your parent is ill, but still able to get around on their own, the degree to which they are able to do so will have to be considered. Canes, walkers and scooters can be of great assistance in helping your parent get around. If your parent is relatively mobile, they may want to go to doctor’s appointments or go shopping. You and your family members or friends can create a schedule to make these trips. If this isn’t possible, there are many community organizations that provide transportation services for those with limited mobility.
If your parent is still able to drive, you should look into getting a Disabled Parking Permit

Home and Garden Care

If your parent is able and prefers to stay at home, they will probably require some assistance in maintaining their home and garden. You and your family members may be able to create a schedule to help take care of the home – doing laundry, cleaning, garden maintenance, snow removal etc. If your family is unable, there may be local volunteer services that may be able to assist the infirm/disabled. If that isn’t an option, you will have to hire a local company to help out with chores in and out of the home.

If the needs are beyond what friends and family can provide then professional home care providers are available and typically provide the following types of services:

  • Hourly Care
  • Overnight Care
  • Live-In Care
  • Palliative (End of Life) Care
  • Respite Care

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Financial Questions (4)

What rules are there for transferring assets of the deceased?

If your spouse passes away his or her assets will need to be distributed to you and any other beneficiaries. Different rules apply to different types of assets.

Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSP)

If your spouse held an RRSP you can:

  • transfer the funds to another RRSP
  • transfer the funds to an RRIF
  • transfer the funds to a registered annuity with an insurance company

Annuities

If your spouse had an Annuity when he/she died that was a term annuity and you were named as the Successor Annuitant you will begin to receive the remaining payments. If it was a life annuity and not a term, then payments will stop at death.

Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIF)

If your spouse had money in an RRIF, the value of the remaining amount in the RRIF can be paid to you as a Designated Benefit. The funds can be received tax sheltered by either:

  • Transferring the funds to another tax-sheltered plan such as an RRIF or an RRSP (if you are 71 or younger)
  • Taking over the RRIF assets. You will then start receiving the payments and be responsible for paying tax on the yearly withdrawals
  • Using the funds to purchase an annuity

Deferred Profit Sharing Plan (DPSP)

As with other registered plans, if your spouse had a DPSP when he/she died the proceeds of the plan can be transferred on a tax free basis into one of the following in your name:

  • RRSP
  • RRIF
  • Registered Pension Plan (if the plan permits)

Non-registered Assets

If your spouse held Non-Registered assets at death there will probably be opportunities to transfer or ‘rollover’ those assets to you without immediate tax implications. Under the spousal rollover rules all assets can be transferred to you without immediate tax consequences.

Real Estate

If your property is registered in joint tenancy With Right of Survivorship (WROS) , meaning both spouses are equal owners, on the death of your spouse, you automatically assume full ownership of the property. This will reduce Probate fees.

Your financial advisor can provide you with more information about the implications of transferring your spouse’s assets.

Here are some experts who can help.

What do I do if I have been named an Executor/Executrix?

After the death of your spouse, a loved one or friend, you may find that you have been named as the Executor or Executrix. An Executor could also be a trusted friend or an advisor or even a trust company If the deceased did not have a Will or the Will did not name an Executor then the Surrogate or Probate Court will have to be approached and the court will appoint an appropriate person as the representative. This person is called the Administrator and fulfills the same role as the Executor.

Executors carry out the terms of the Will, pay any estate debts, and perhaps make funeral arrangements. Disposition of an estate is a provincial/territorial concern and each jurisdiction has basic rules outlining what the Executor must do. (Please see our links page for provincial government websites). Many properly drafted Wills will also lay out specific responsibilities or powers given to the Executor which actually makes the process simpler. Check the deceased’s Will to see the powers given to the Executor.

Executors are responsible for paying probate fees on the estate. These fees are essentially provincial/territorial death taxes applied to the value of the deceased’s assets. They are calculated based on a percentage; therefore the larger the estate, the higher the probate fees. Probate fees are theoretically intended to pay the costs the government incurs to settle a deceased’s affairs. These are a provincial concern and vary quite widely across the country.

For example, in Ontario the probate fees are 0.5% which is equal to $5 per $1,000 of estate value up to $50,000 and 1.5% which is equal to $15 per $1,000 of estate value over $50,000. Therefore if an Ontario resident died with an estate value of $200,000 the probate fees would be: $50,000/$1,000 X $5 = $250 plus, ($200,000 - $50,000)/$1,000 X $15 = $2,250 for a total of $2,500


Depending on the nature of the estate, you may want to call in outside professionals to assist in winding up the estate. These could include lawyers and accountants. If an estate is complicated this is certainly advisable.

Although many family members who are named Executors choose not to be paid, provincial law does allow for reasonable compensation for the Executor. If the Executor is paid, there are guidelines established but the court would have the final say on whether the compensation is appropriate. Any reasonable ongoing expenses incurred to wind up the estate would also be paid.

For a detailed checklist of the steps an Executor should take, please download this PDF, which is provided courtesy of Dedicated Financial Solutions and Manulife Securities.

What benefits are available to surviving spouses and families of Canadian Forces Members?

When a death occurs, VAC’s Casualty Support Protocol is invoked. An Area counselor is assigned to the survivor/family. Working closely with the DND Assisting Officer, the Area Counselor will work with the client/family to identify the needs and help access, on a priority basis, the services and programs that are required. The Area Counselor will plan, organize, coordinate and monitor the VAC services and resources required to respond to the needs.

Death Benefit
The Death Benefit will recognize and compensate a surviving spouse/common-law partner and/or surviving dependent child(ren) of a member for the non-economic impacts of a sudden service-related death, which includes the member’s loss of life, the resulting loss of guidance, care, companionship and the impact of the member’s death on the functioning of the household.
The Death Benefit and Disability awards payable under the CFMVRCA, which are administered exclusively by Veterans Affairs Canada, is separate from CFSA. No contributions are made and the benefits are not dependent on average pay or years of service, but rather on the extent of the member’s disability.

Vocational Assistance
When the death of the CF member/Veteran is related to service, Vocational Assistance, including rehabilitation services, is available based on need to the surviving spouse/common-law partner.

Financial Benefits
When the death of a CF member/Veteran is related to service, the surviving spouse/common-law partner and orphans are eligible for the Earnings Loss Benefit and the Canadian Forces Income Support. Survivors/common-law partners are also eligible for the Supplementary Retirement Benefit.

Health Benefits Program
When the death of the CF member/Veteran is related to service, the surviving spouse/common-law partner, if not otherwise eligible for the Public Service Health Care Plan, can enroll in the Public Service Health Care Plan through the Health Benefits Program and obtain coverage for themselves and their family.

Education Assistance
Education Assistance may be available to help children carry on their education past high school if they have a CF parent who dies as a result of military service. Under the program, full-time students can qualify for grants to help pay for their education costs and living expenses.

Answers via Veterans Affairs Canada. For more information www.veterans.gc.ca. or contact one of VAC’s toll-free numbers at 1-866-522-2122 (English) or 1-866-522-2022 (French).

What should I do/change financially after my spouse dies?

The death of your spouse or a loved one can mean changes in your life and your life goals. You may want to re-evaluate your strategies for balancing your priorities and making progress towards achieving your revised financial goals.
Take this opportunity to review your priorities and consider asking yourself or your financial advisor these questions:

  • How do I transfer my spouse’s investment assets into my name and what documents will I need?
  • Will I need to create a new investment portfolio?
  • Do I need a new Will?
  • How will my estate plans change?
  • Should I consider transferring assets to my family now?
  • How will my Budget change?
  • I may decide to sell my home, what are the implications?
  • Will I need new or different insurance coverage?
  • What is involved in being an Executor?

Here are some experts who can help.

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Government Benefits (5)

What government benefits are available?

There are a number of benefits available to survivors of the deceased, whether they be spouses or children. However, it is important to apply for all of the applicable government benefits that you are eligible to receive and to do so as soon as possible, because retroactive payments are time limited. The attached PDF file from Service Canada, “During Your Time Of Loss: Information for Survivors” outlines the Old Age Security and Canada Pension Plan benefits and how to find out if you are eligible. The various benefits are outlined here as well and grouped by type.

Canada Pension Plan Benefits

Old Age Security Benefits

Veterans Affairs Canada

What benefits are available to surviving spouses and families of Canadian Forces Members?

When a death occurs, VAC’s Casualty Support Protocol is invoked. An Area counselor is assigned to the survivor/family. Working closely with the DND Assisting Officer, the Area Counselor will work with the client/family to identify the needs and help access, on a priority basis, the services and programs that are required. The Area Counselor will plan, organize, coordinate and monitor the VAC services and resources required to respond to the needs.

Death Benefit
The Death Benefit will recognize and compensate a surviving spouse/common-law partner and/or surviving dependent child(ren) of a member for the non-economic impacts of a sudden service-related death, which includes the member’s loss of life, the resulting loss of guidance, care, companionship and the impact of the member’s death on the functioning of the household.
The Death Benefit and Disability awards payable under the CFMVRCA, which are administered exclusively by Veterans Affairs Canada, is separate from CFSA. No contributions are made and the benefits are not dependent on average pay or years of service, but rather on the extent of the member’s disability.

Vocational Assistance
When the death of the CF member/Veteran is related to service, Vocational Assistance, including rehabilitation services, is available based on need to the surviving spouse/common-law partner.

Financial Benefits
When the death of a CF member/Veteran is related to service, the surviving spouse/common-law partner and orphans are eligible for the Earnings Loss Benefit and the Canadian Forces Income Support. Survivors/common-law partners are also eligible for the Supplementary Retirement Benefit.

Health Benefits Program
When the death of the CF member/Veteran is related to service, the surviving spouse/common-law partner, if not otherwise eligible for the Public Service Health Care Plan, can enroll in the Public Service Health Care Plan through the Health Benefits Program and obtain coverage for themselves and their family.

Education Assistance
Education Assistance may be available to help children carry on their education past high school if they have a CF parent who dies as a result of military service. Under the program, full-time students can qualify for grants to help pay for their education costs and living expenses.

Answers via Veterans Affairs Canada. For more information www.veterans.gc.ca. or contact one of VAC’s toll-free numbers at 1-866-522-2122 (English) or 1-866-522-2022 (French).

How do I apply for the Canada Pension Plan Death Benefit?

If your spouse passed away and was a contributor to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) you may be eligible to receive a lump sum death benefit. The death benefit is based on the amount of CPP pension your spouse was receiving and the maximum amount is $2,500. The amount received is taxable to the deceased’s estate. You have to apply for the death benefit in order to receive it.. Your financial advisor can help you or you can directly request an application kit from Service Canada or download it in PDF form from at this link.
Note that in order to apply you will be required to provide:

  • a Death Certificate
  • the Social Insurance Number (SIN) of the deceased

Am I eligible for the Children’s Benefits?

The Children’s Benefits are available to children who have lost a parent. It is a monthly benefit available to dependent children who are younger than 18 or who are between 18 and 25 and in school full-time. For more information, detailed questions and answers, or to download an application please visit Service Canada.

What is the Guaranteed Income Supplement?

The Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) provides additional money, on top of the Old Age Security pension, to low-income seniors living in Canada. To be eligible for the GIS benefit you must be receiving the Old Age Security pension and meet income requirements.

GIS is based on your annual income, or the combined annual income of you and your spouse or common-law partner. Since your annual income can change from year to year, you must renew your GIS each year. Most seniors automatically renew their GIS simply by filing their income tax return by April 30.

If you do not file a tax return, or if the government needs more information, Service Canada will send a renewal application form to you in the mail. If you receive a form from Service Canada, you must complete and return it as soon as you have all the necessary income information, even if you file a tax return. If you do not re-apply for the GIS benefit in the spring, or if your income is now too high to qualify for it, you will only get the basic Old Age Security pension starting in July of that year.

Each July, you will receive a letter that tells you the new amount of your monthly payment.

To apply, contact Service Canada at 1 (800) 277-9914, or re-apply for GIS by filing your income tax return. For more information on GIS, please visit the Service Canada website.

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Government Documents (2)

How do I file a final tax return for the deceased?

One of the duties of an Executor is to file a tax return, or in some cases tax returns on behalf of the deceased. The Final Return covers any taxable events between December 31 of the previous year and the date of death, so this period could be from one to 365 days.
The CRA publishes a very useful guide called Preparing Returns for Deceased Persons (T4011). This is available at any Tax Services office or can be downloaded from the CRA website at: Preparing Returns for Deceased Persons.
The filing deadline for a Final Return is six months after the date of death or the normal filing deadline which is ordinarily April 30, whichever is later.

For example, if a taxpayer died on July 31, 2009, the filing deadline will be April 30, 2010, because it is the latter of six months after the date of death (July 31, 2009) and the normal filing deadline of April 30, 2010.


The CRA provides further details on what to do following a death on their website.
Here are some experts who can help.

How do I cancel the passport of the deceased?

To cancel the passport of the deceased it should be returned to Passport Canada with a copy of the death certificate and a letter indicating if the cancelled passport should be destroyed or returned to you.

We recommend that you send the documents by registered mail to:

Passport Canada

Foreign Affairs Canada

Gatineau QC  K1A 0G3

Canada

Or you can send the document by courier to:

Passport Canada

70 Crémazie Street

Gatineau QC J8Y 3P2

Canada


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Grief & Bereavement Questions (4)

How can I cope with losing my spouse?

If you have lost a loved one, please accept our sincerest condolences. Below is a list of tips that may help you during this difficult time:

  • Be good to yourself.
  • Eat right and avoid too much alcohol, drugs, caffeine, sugars and tobacco.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Maintain a regular schedule and get out of the house now and then.
  • Cry.
  • Answer the mail and condolence letters. It’s part of the healing process.
  • Start a personal journal.
  • Join a support group.
  • Deal with emptying drawers and closets. It may be helpful to have someone with you who is understanding and can share your memories or stories, but don’t let someone else do this for you.
  • Avoid hasty decisions. Wait a year before selling the house, moving or making any major purchases.
  • Allow yourself time to get some things done. If it’s hard to do, or a decision is difficult to make, then wait. You will know when the time is right.

 

 

What can I do to help a bereaved friend or family member?

Courtesy of Bereaved Families of Ontario.

As you very well know, this period in a person’s life can be very difficult. For a friend of someone who is grieving, you may not even know what to say to console your friend. Below are some tips on what to do to help your friend through this hard time.

DO
  • Do let your genuine concern and caring show.
  • Do be available. Listen, run errands, provide food for out of town mourners or whatever you perceive is needed at the time.
  • Do tell the family how sorry you are for their loss.
  • Offer to be a friend. Deal with your grieving friend/family member gently and positively.
  • Recognize that grieving has no time limit and varies from individual to individual both in the way they express their grief and the time required to stabilize.
DON’T
  • Don’t let your own sense of helplessness and inadequacies keep you from reaching out.
  • Don’t avoid them because you are uncomfortable and unable to cope with your own feelings about death.
  • Don’t say “I know you feel” unless you really do.
  • Don’t say “You should be coping better by now” or anything else which may appear judgemental about their progress in grieving.
  • Don’t tell them what they should feel.
  • Don’t look for some moral lesson or something positive in the situation.
  • Don’t let your friends, family or co-worker grieve alone. There is a tremendous sense of isolation and abandonment during the grief process. You can help by caring, by being there and by being the best friend you can be.

 

What do I say to someone who has lost a loved one?

Source: American Cancer Society

It is common to feel awkward when trying to comfort someone who is grieving. Many people do not know what to say or do. The following are suggestions to use as a guide.

  • Acknowledge the situation. Example: “I heard that your_____ died.” Use the word “died” That will show that you are more open to talk about how the person really feels.
  • Express your concern. Example: “I’m sorry to hear that this happened to you.”
  • Be genuine in your communication and don’t hide your feelings. Example: “I’m not sure what to say, but I want you to know I care.”
  • Offer your support. Example: “Tell me what I can do for you.”
  • Ask how he or she feels, and don’t assume you know how the bereaved person feels on any given day.

What should I avoid saying to the bereaved?

Source: American Hospice Foundation

People sometimes worry that they will say the wrong thing. The following are some things to avoid:

  • “I know how you feel.” One can never know how another may feel. You could, instead, ask your friend to tell you how he or she feels.
  • “It’s part of God’s plan.” This phrase can make people angry and they often respond with, “What plan? Nobody told me about any plan.”
  • “Look at what you have to be thankful for.” They know they have things to be thankful for, but right now they are not important.
  • “He’s in a better place now.” The bereaved may or may not believe this. Keep your beliefs to yourself unless asked.
  • “This is behind you now; it’s time to get on with your life.” Sometimes the bereaved are resistant to getting on with because they feel this means “forgetting” their loved one. In addition, moving on is easier said than done. Grief has a mind of its own and works at its own pace.
  • Statements that begin with “You should” or “You will.” These statements are too directive. Instead you could begin your comments with: “Have you thought about. . .” or “You might. . .”

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House & Home (1)

Should I Remodel my Home?

Real numbers to remodeling. Getting to the heart of the house.

Like most Canadians, you are likely curious as to what will get the most money for your home if you spend only a small amount in remodeling.

Kitchens
In fact, a kitchen renovation will provide a 75%-100% return if you haven’t updated recently. The trick is not to over-renovate…don’t make this critical mistake which could negatively impact your home’s value!

Provided by Jill Beasley of Royal LePage
Information was compiled from the July 2010 Appraisal Institute of Canada/RENOVA

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Legal Questions (3)

What do I do if I have been named an Executor/Executrix?

After the death of your spouse, a loved one or friend, you may find that you have been named as the Executor or Executrix. An Executor could also be a trusted friend or an advisor or even a trust company If the deceased did not have a Will or the Will did not name an Executor then the Surrogate or Probate Court will have to be approached and the court will appoint an appropriate person as the representative. This person is called the Administrator and fulfills the same role as the Executor.

Executors carry out the terms of the Will, pay any estate debts, and perhaps make funeral arrangements. Disposition of an estate is a provincial/territorial concern and each jurisdiction has basic rules outlining what the Executor must do. (Please see our links page for provincial government websites). Many properly drafted Wills will also lay out specific responsibilities or powers given to the Executor which actually makes the process simpler. Check the deceased’s Will to see the powers given to the Executor.

Executors are responsible for paying probate fees on the estate. These fees are essentially provincial/territorial death taxes applied to the value of the deceased’s assets. They are calculated based on a percentage; therefore the larger the estate, the higher the probate fees. Probate fees are theoretically intended to pay the costs the government incurs to settle a deceased’s affairs. These are a provincial concern and vary quite widely across the country.

For example, in Ontario the probate fees are 0.5% which is equal to $5 per $1,000 of estate value up to $50,000 and 1.5% which is equal to $15 per $1,000 of estate value over $50,000. Therefore if an Ontario resident died with an estate value of $200,000 the probate fees would be: $50,000/$1,000 X $5 = $250 plus, ($200,000 - $50,000)/$1,000 X $15 = $2,250 for a total of $2,500


Depending on the nature of the estate, you may want to call in outside professionals to assist in winding up the estate. These could include lawyers and accountants. If an estate is complicated this is certainly advisable.

Although many family members who are named Executors choose not to be paid, provincial law does allow for reasonable compensation for the Executor. If the Executor is paid, there are guidelines established but the court would have the final say on whether the compensation is appropriate. Any reasonable ongoing expenses incurred to wind up the estate would also be paid.

For a detailed checklist of the steps an Executor should take, please download this PDF, which is provided courtesy of Dedicated Financial Solutions and Manulife Securities.

What is a Living Will?

Also known as a Health Care Directive or a Personal Care Directive , a Living Will outlines your wishes about medical treatment in the event of a serious life-threatening injury or illness. A Living Will can be made with or without the assistance of a lawyer and is made legal once it is signed, dated and witnessed.

When creating a Living Will be sure to:

  • Discuss all your options with your family physician. They will be better able to advise you of what conditions would warrant the following of a living will.
  • Verbally tell your family and friends about the Living Will. This will help them when the time comes and they will remember you telling them about your wishes.
  • Decide who you want to speak on your behalf and get their permission.
  • Write your living will yourself or seek help from a lawyer.
  • Provide copies of your living will to your family members, lawyer, family physician and the person who will be acting on your behalf.

If a disease such as Alzheimer’s or Dementia , which impacts one’s mental ability, affects your parent, they may be unable to make decisions for themselves. Consequently, someone, usually a family member or members will have to take over that responsibility. This is done with a Power of Attorney (POA) .

 

What is a Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows a person to act on your behalf. They vary from province to province, for example, in Ontario there are 3 kinds:

  1. Continuing Power of Attorney for Property
    • This covers financial affairs and allows a person to name an individual to act for them – especially if they became mentally incapable.
  2. Non-Continuing Power of Attorney for Property
    • This covers your financial affairs but can’t be used if your parent becomes mentally incapable. Your parent might need this if you want someone to look after your financial affairs if you’re away from home for an extended period or if you own property with someone and want that person to handle the sale, especially if you’re away. It is only enforced for a specified time period.
  3. Power of Attorney for Personal Care
    • This POA allows you to appoint someone else to make your personal decisions, such as housing and health care, if you can’t communicate. It’s also called a health-care proxy and a Durable power of attorney for health care. Some issues that may be addressed would be: hospice care; change of physicians; the use of experimental treatments; nutrition; and the use of “heroic measures” to prolong life.

For more details use our links page to go to your provincial or territorial government website and search for Power of Attorney.

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Most Common Questions (5)

What government benefits are available?

There are a number of benefits available to survivors of the deceased, whether they be spouses or children. However, it is important to apply for all of the applicable government benefits that you are eligible to receive and to do so as soon as possible, because retroactive payments are time limited. The attached PDF file from Service Canada, “During Your Time Of Loss: Information for Survivors” outlines the Old Age Security and Canada Pension Plan benefits and how to find out if you are eligible. The various benefits are outlined here as well and grouped by type.

Canada Pension Plan Benefits

Old Age Security Benefits

Veterans Affairs Canada

How can I cope with losing my spouse?

If you have lost a loved one, please accept our sincerest condolences. Below is a list of tips that may help you during this difficult time:

  • Be good to yourself.
  • Eat right and avoid too much alcohol, drugs, caffeine, sugars and tobacco.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Maintain a regular schedule and get out of the house now and then.
  • Cry.
  • Answer the mail and condolence letters. It’s part of the healing process.
  • Start a personal journal.
  • Join a support group.
  • Deal with emptying drawers and closets. It may be helpful to have someone with you who is understanding and can share your memories or stories, but don’t let someone else do this for you.
  • Avoid hasty decisions. Wait a year before selling the house, moving or making any major purchases.
  • Allow yourself time to get some things done. If it’s hard to do, or a decision is difficult to make, then wait. You will know when the time is right.

 

 

What can I do to help a bereaved friend or family member?

Courtesy of Bereaved Families of Ontario.

As you very well know, this period in a person’s life can be very difficult. For a friend of someone who is grieving, you may not even know what to say to console your friend. Below are some tips on what to do to help your friend through this hard time.

DO
  • Do let your genuine concern and caring show.
  • Do be available. Listen, run errands, provide food for out of town mourners or whatever you perceive is needed at the time.
  • Do tell the family how sorry you are for their loss.
  • Offer to be a friend. Deal with your grieving friend/family member gently and positively.
  • Recognize that grieving has no time limit and varies from individual to individual both in the way they express their grief and the time required to stabilize.
DON’T
  • Don’t let your own sense of helplessness and inadequacies keep you from reaching out.
  • Don’t avoid them because you are uncomfortable and unable to cope with your own feelings about death.
  • Don’t say “I know you feel” unless you really do.
  • Don’t say “You should be coping better by now” or anything else which may appear judgemental about their progress in grieving.
  • Don’t tell them what they should feel.
  • Don’t look for some moral lesson or something positive in the situation.
  • Don’t let your friends, family or co-worker grieve alone. There is a tremendous sense of isolation and abandonment during the grief process. You can help by caring, by being there and by being the best friend you can be.

 

What do I say to someone who has lost a loved one?

Source: American Cancer Society

It is common to feel awkward when trying to comfort someone who is grieving. Many people do not know what to say or do. The following are suggestions to use as a guide.

  • Acknowledge the situation. Example: “I heard that your_____ died.” Use the word “died” That will show that you are more open to talk about how the person really feels.
  • Express your concern. Example: “I’m sorry to hear that this happened to you.”
  • Be genuine in your communication and don’t hide your feelings. Example: “I’m not sure what to say, but I want you to know I care.”
  • Offer your support. Example: “Tell me what I can do for you.”
  • Ask how he or she feels, and don’t assume you know how the bereaved person feels on any given day.

What should I avoid saying to the bereaved?

Source: American Hospice Foundation

People sometimes worry that they will say the wrong thing. The following are some things to avoid:

  • “I know how you feel.” One can never know how another may feel. You could, instead, ask your friend to tell you how he or she feels.
  • “It’s part of God’s plan.” This phrase can make people angry and they often respond with, “What plan? Nobody told me about any plan.”
  • “Look at what you have to be thankful for.” They know they have things to be thankful for, but right now they are not important.
  • “He’s in a better place now.” The bereaved may or may not believe this. Keep your beliefs to yourself unless asked.
  • “This is behind you now; it’s time to get on with your life.” Sometimes the bereaved are resistant to getting on with because they feel this means “forgetting” their loved one. In addition, moving on is easier said than done. Grief has a mind of its own and works at its own pace.
  • Statements that begin with “You should” or “You will.” These statements are too directive. Instead you could begin your comments with: “Have you thought about. . .” or “You might. . .”

View category→
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