The following strategies may assist you in supporting a grieving person to realise what has happened is real and true and must be acknowledged.
- Be supportive of the grieving person
- Allow the person to experience the pain of the grief
- Encourage the person to talk about the loss, if they wish
- Be honest, include and involve
The person should be offered the choice of whether to attend the funeral or memorial service. If he or she is unable to choose directly because of cognitive limitations, it is usually advisable to involve the person as fully as possible in all the rituals being arranged.
- Listen and be there
Being available to listen and provide support is essential. This must occur immediately after the death, and, most importantly, also in the weeks and months following. Understanding the permanence of death comes slowly, thus the person may experience delayed grief.
- Actively seek out nonverbal rituals
The nonverbal rituals with which most cultures surround death are helpful to many of us.
- Respect photos and other mementos
In the early stages of bereavement it is quite common to avoid pictures and possessions and places which are associated with the person who died. As time passes, such mementos may come to be treasured. Indeed, the reduction in avoidance of such cues can provide a useful measure toward resolution of grief. Sometimes people make unexpected choices, but these should be respected.
- Minimise change
It is advisable to minimise changes in routine and changes in accommodation or care at a time of grief. As a rule of thumb, we suggest major changes should be avoided for at least one year.
- Avoid assessment of skills
This can be the worst time to assess someone whose behaviour and skills may have regressed because of the emotional energy being expended on grieving.
For more strategies on how you can help to support a grieving person, check out our extensive aged care courses.
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