While there are many things you can do to help people through the pain
of their grief, there are also things that don't help at all--and that
could even be hurtful. Here are some thoughts on things it's best not
- Don't try to "fix" things, or make it all better for the
person suffering the loss--no one can ever do that.
- Don't use cliches, or tell people that time heals all wounds. The
wound of loss will never really heal, but they will learn to live with
the loss over time.
- Don't compare one griever's loss or experience of grief to another's.
Comparisons seem to minimize the loss or to force grievers to behave
the "right way" instead of the way they are reacting--and this can retard
the healing process.
- Don't encourage grieving people to make major changes, such as moving,
changing jobs, etc. Extreme grief clouds judgment, and the people may
later regret their decision.
- Don't attempt to cheer them up--just be there for them, and be as
supportive as you can.
- Don't scold, give advice, lecture, etc. Let the grief run its course--and
remember that everyone heals at a different pace.
- Don't suggest the person can replace the one they've lost ("You
can have another baby," or "you'll find someone else").
This can be alienating and excruciating for grieving people to hear--it
seems to minimize their loss, even though that's not your intent.