Steven V. Malec, BBA, NCBF, is a national speaker and Director of Bereavement Ministry for the Catholic Cemeteries Association in the Diocese of Cleveland, OH. “Seven Tips About What to Say and Do to Comfort Others” is part of “Preparing a Catholic Funeral” by Rev. Kenneth Koehler. (Morehouse Education Resources).
When comforting those who mourn, do not allow your own sense of helplessness to restrain you from reaching out to the bereaved. Recognize the therapeutic value of your presence. It is always appropriate for family and friends to come together for prayer, support, and acts of kindness.
You can help a grieving person by:
1. Giving them your listening presence
Support is based more on effective listening than on any words you may say.
2. Giving them permission to grieve and express their feelings
Alllow them to talk. Don’t be afraid of their tears.
3. Remembering with them
Share stories, memories, and photos. Use the deceased loved one’s name.
4. Offering continued support
Visit, telephone, and write them, especially around difficult days: birthdays, anniversaries, holidays or other special occasions.
5. Avoid use of clichés
Speak from your heart.
6. Offering practical help
Cook a meal, take them to the store, library, cemetery, etc.
7. Praying with them
Offer to attend church with them. Give them a book of poems and prayers. Many times, simple acts can facilitate much healing.