For those who are struggling with what to say to family members and friends of the victims of the mass shooting in Dayton’s Oregon District, bereavement specialists at Ohio’s Hospice say that listening and sharing memories about the person who died are some of the best ways to support those who are grieving.
“Those who are grieving need to know you are there for them and care for them,” said Deb Holt, a bereavement counseling professional with Ohio’s Hospice. “You can bring comfort to someone who is grieving by sitting with that person and listening to them. You can provide so much comfort to the grieving person by listening, sharing memories and celebrating that person’s life.”
When comforting a grieving person, there are a few things to avoid.
- Don’t have unrealistic expectations for those who have experienced loss. There is no timeline for grief, and there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Be patient and encourage the grieving person to be patient with themselves.
- Each person’s grief differs. You can’t assume you know how someone feels.
- Don’t say, “If you need anything, just call me.” Be specific in what you can offer someone who is grieving.
- Avoid asking those who have lost a loved one how they are doing. Instead, say, “I’m thinking about you. How can I help? What do you need help with today?”
To support a grieving person, there are a few things you can do.
- Let your family member or friend know that you are there. Offer your presence. Listen to them.
- Offer practical help such as bringing them groceries or running errands. Think through what the grieving person might need.
- Continue to support that person after the funeral for months. Be thoughtful of holidays, birthdays and anniversaries. Call your family member or friend on those days. Send a note.
- Use the deceased person’s name and share memories with the family member. It’s like a gift to the grieving person. Mentioning memories months and years after the funeral can be a comfort to the grieving person.
- Say “I’m thinking about you.” Support the grieving person in small ways with notes, gifts and reminders.
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