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October 12, 2013

How do you comfort someone in grief?

How do you comfort someone in grief?

TRAVERSE CITY — Ninety-one percent of those polled said it’s better to say something to someone who has just lost a loved one — even if it’s risking saying the wrong thing — than to say nothing at all.

So said Michael’s Place Executive Director Mindy Buell, citing a 2011 study by the New York Life Foundation in partnership with the National Association of Grieving Children.

Here’s what Michael’s Place suggests:

n Comforting Words

“I am sorry this has happened to you.”

“Take all the time you need for yourself.”

“I hope things get easier for you.”

“I am here if you want to talk.”

“You don’t have to go through this alone.”

“I understand this is going to take some time.”

n Comforting Actions

Offer to help out with tasks, such as laundry, grocery shopping or babysitting.

Make family-size meals for the freezer to eat months after the funeral.

Send “I am thinking of you messages” for at least a year. Remember special days like the birthday of the deceased, anniversary of the death, Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.

Write down a favorite memory or story.

Don’t try to fix. Just sit and listen without judgment.

n Less Helpful

“I understand just how you feel.”

“You should be over this by now.”

“You are never given more than you can handle.”

“Your loved one is in a better place.”

“You need to be strong for your ...”

“You are now the man/woman of the house.”

Michael’s Place, a nonprofit located at Boon and Hastings streets, offers several different, free programs, including support groups, assistance to businesses and schools with grief crisis support, youth programs and a yoga healing class to relieve stress and anxiety.

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