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The Ten Best Ways to Offer Solace to Someone Who is Bereaved
By Roberta Temes Ph.D.,
Author of Solace: Finding Your Way Through Grief and Learning to Live Again

1. Don't be shy. Talk to the bereaved, even if you are uncomfortable doing so. Remember that they are in far more discomfort than you. Call or email to say that you are thinking of them and would like to be useful.

2. Volunteer to drive them places. They will have immediate chores to do at a bank, a funeral home, and an attorney's office. Often they prefer company while doing these tasks but if not then you simply wait in the car.

3. Volunteer to bring over food. After the initial week or two, most family members will have resumed their usual schedules and are no longer available to literally cater to the bereaved. If the person says that they don't want anything then bring over soup and ice cream. Those are the best foods for a person in mourning because they contain enough calories to maintain nutrition yet require no biting and chewing. It is often difficult to bite or chew when deeply aggrieved.

4. Volunteer to do paper work. There are many forms that need to be filled out and the bereaved may not have the patience. You can ease the job by doing it with the person at your side responding to your questions.

5. Ask about the day of the death. Most people, after a few weeks, need to talk about the circumstances of the death. It helps them process it and absorb the reality. All you need to do is listen. 

6. Help them post something on the Internet. Putting feelings into words for the world to see is a most healing endeavor. On my website, I provide precise instructions for writing a eulogy. 

7. Encourage the bereaved to create something tangible, something they can look at or carry around, that reminds them of their loved one. Suggest they make some personal jewelry from the deceased's jewelry, or perhaps choose some photos to fit into their wallet.

8. After several months, offer to go with them to buy a pet. If the bereaved is now alone in the house and has no reason to get up and get dressed every morning a dog is the answer. 

9. Help expand their social network by finding course offerings at the local community college or library or house of worship. There are always activities that welcome new members. Suggest particular courses and if necessary go with them to the first class.

10. After many months the bereaved will need help in planning for the future. Bring over information about possible trips, vacations, cruises, etc. Having something to look forward to prevents constantly looking back.

©2009 Roberta Temes Ph.D., author of Solace: Finding Your Way Through Grief and Learning to Live Again

Author Bio

Roberta Temes, Ph.D., author of Solace: Finding Your Way Through Grief and Learning to Live Again, is a noted psychotherapist who has taught classes in death, dying, and bereavement at schools such as Downstate Medical School and CUNY. She is the author of several books, including the award-winning Living with an Empty Chair: A Guide Through Grief and The Tapping Cure. She lives in Scotch Plains, New Jersey.

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