Grief & Bereavement Questions

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 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 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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