Understand the Grieving Process

  • There is no right or wrong way to grieve- Everyone grieves differently.
  • Grief may involve extreme emotions or behaviors
  • There is no set timetable for grieving. Don’t pressure your loved one to “move on” or make them feel like they’ve been grieving too long.

How to Support a Grieving Person

Listen with compassion.
It is easy to get caught up in the fear that you might say the wrong thing, but avoiding the grieving person or changing the subject away from the deceased can be very hurtful. Accept and acknowledge all of the feelings that the person grieving feels and avoid telling them how they “should” and “shouldn’t” feel, no matter how irrational it may seem. Feelings of guilt, anger, and blame are all normal and should be listened to without judgment.

Be willing to sit in silence.
Sometimes there are no words needed. A hug, a squeeze of the hand, or silent presence can be more reassuring and comforting than trying to come up with the “right thing” to say.

Let the bereaved talk about how their loved one died.
They may be struggling to process the “How’s” and “Why’s?” of the persons death. It’s not uncommon for the details of the death to be repeated. With each retelling, the pain can lessen, as they process the death. 

Help in practical ways.
Instead of saying, “Let me know if you need anything”, say “I am going to the store, can I pick up something for you?” or “I made extra soup last night, can I bring you some?” Offer to help out with tasks, mow the lawn, pick up groceries, etc…

Provide ongoing support.
Continue your support over time. Because the funeral is over and a few months have passed, many assume the grieving person has “moved on” or is “over it”. Grief is a lifelong journey. Remember special dates, such as anniversaries and birthdays and offer extra support. Ask about the loved one and share stories of the deceased, if you have them.

More Information

Books and Resources on Grief

Browse the curated collection of books and other resources intended to help those who are grieving by providing insight and understanding.

Children's Grief Information

Further your understanding about the ways children are different than adults in the ways they process grief and how that changes over time.

Bereavement Resources in Michigan

The National Bereavement Resource Guide Sponsored by New York Life and The Moyer Foundation provides a compilation (PDF format) of state and local resources organized by state.

The Importance of Self-Care

Grief can be experienced in many different ways. Although there is no shortcut to healing, there are ways to take care of ourselves and help us get through each day.