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How to Help

Help and support from family and friends is crucial after bereavement – but sometimes people are unsure how to help so, if you have a bereaved friend or relative, here are some guidelines on how to help them through the crisis:

Immediately after a death, practical help is often needed. The bereaved person will be in a state of shock and might be unable to cope with the many practical arrangements to be made as well as the practicalities of everyday life. Offer whatever help seems to be needed.

Spend time with the person without being intrusive. Encourage them to talk about the dead person – the events leading up to the death; happy memories, regrets, and so on. (Don’t worry about ‘upsetting’ them; crying is an essential part of the grief process). Physical contact – a hug, a squeeze of the hand can also be comforting.

Reassure them that their emotions and experiences are quite normal (e.g. feeling angry with the dead person, or hearing their voice). Remember too that people grieve in different ways – all quite ‘normal’.

Don’t suggest that their dead partner or child can be ‘replaced’ in years to come. And don’t say you ‘know how they feel’ unless you’ve lost a partner or child yourself. Finally don’t try to look for something ‘positive’ about the death.

Allow them to grieve. It takes a long time to recover from a death, so be patient. Never suggest that they ‘should be feeling better by now’.

Don’t forget about them after two or three months! Many bereaved people hit their lowest ebb about three months after the death and will need continuing support and comfort.

Take care of yourself. It can be emotionally draining to support someone who is bereaved, so you need to set limits on how much time and energy you can spare. If necessary, suggest that they contact one of the voluntary agencies for support or see their GP.

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Paul Shoobridge

Low Cost Funeral Services Exeter

183a, Pinhoe Road

Polsloe Bridge, 

Exeter. 01392 409 000
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