The Compassion to Help Others

Compassion to help others

How can you help others when they are grieving:

Educate yourself on the nature of grief.

Realize that no one can replace or undo the loss.

Be available do something rather than the right words may not be that important.  A physical touch might be the right connection.

Listen without giving advice.  As a culture, we want to “fix it”.   Reflective listening is reassuring.  It is a gesture that they are heard.

Be patient, kind and understanding without being patronizing.

Be there later, when many friends and family members have gone back to their routines.

Keep promises to “call you for lunch” or “drop by to see you.”  Good intentions without follow-through may be perceived as a lack of sincerity or caring.

Remember holidays, birthdays and anniversaries that have important meaning to those who mourn.  Honor the individual who has passed to keep the memories and meanings alive.

Allow the grieving person to express all and any feelings, including anger or bitterness.  Remember that some people will not or cannot talk about their feelings.

“How are you doing today?”,  “Does talking about Jim help or hurt?”


“If There’s Anything I Can Do…How to Help Someone who has been Bereaved” by Caroline Doughty, White Ladder Press, Britain, 2007 (insight and suggestions for helping widows with young children)

“The Art of Condolence, what to write, what to say, what to do at a time of loss” by Leonard Zunin, MD and Hilary Stanton Zunin, Harper Collins Publishers, 1991.

“When a Spouse Dies, What I didn’t Know about helping myself and others through grief,” by Barbara R Wheeler, DSW, Plain Sight Publishing, 2012.

“Transitions, Making sense of life’s changes” by William Bridges, Lifelong books, 2004.

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