Do’s and Do Not’s of Responding to Grieving Families

Because of my recent experiences with mourning, I’ve come up with a list of things people should do and shouldn’t do when trying to comfort grieving families. Some of the list would apply mainly to a tragic death and others could apply to any close death.

Do’s

  • Share memories of deceased person or how they impacted you.
  • Phone before visiting & bringing food over – they may have enough people visiting for that day and need some space and their freezes and fridges may be full.
  • If bringing food, ask about allergies – I heard of someone who was a celiac and people kept bringing food with gluten so she couldn’t eat most of the food brought to her.
  • Think about bringing juice or something to drink.
  • Put your name on food you bring and any heating instructions if possible.
  • Contact them, even if only an email or text.
  • Offer an idea of how you can help instead of saying ask if you need anything, if possible.
  • Be aware they might tell you they’re fine when they aren’t depending on how close you are to them.
  • Be aware that not everyone wants to talk about it and may need more space than others.

Do Not’s

  • DO NOT introduce them to your girlfriend the day after the death.
  • DO NOT visit if you’re not close to at least one member of the family or to the deceased person.
  • DO NOT ask if people came over to visit them specifically – it may cause them feel alone if someone hasn’t come over to visit them specifically.
  • DO NOT forget about the family after the funeral – it does not get easier after the funeral.
  • DO NOT tell them what to do for the funeral unless they ask.
  • DO NOT try too hard to make them smile – they experienced a death and smiling won’t come easy.
  • DO NOT say on the bright side, now you only have …. to …. – ex. Now you only have 3 brothers to bug you.
  • DO NOT push them to open up if they don’t want to – if they don’t want to talk, they don’t want to talk.
  • DO NOT tell them you’re pregnant, or something similar and expect them to be happy for you.
  • DO NOT post stuff online that you wouldn’t want the media to get a hold of.
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