‘Let the bereaved person know it is okay not to be okay and you understand that’ - Sue Ryder counsellor gives advice

Listening is so important when someone is grieving say Sue Ryder.

Listening is so important when someone is grieving say Sue Ryder. - Credit: Archant

Sue Ryder’s online bereavement counsellor Felicity Ward provides some advice for those who are grieving and also advises those who may be supporting someone who has suffered a loss.

How to help yourself

* Try to keep to a routine, and if you are struggling, especially in lockdown, create a list of basic tasks and tick them off as you go along. In the early days, this might include having a shower and brushing your teeth.

* Think about doing something creative such as a jigsaw or colouring or create a memory box. Listen to music or watch a box set.

* You many want to think about learning a new skill or taking up a new hobby or spending time working in the garden or cooking or baking.

* Don’t feel guilty about having a pyjama/duvet day.

* Don’t be afraid to express your emotions and cry or talk out loud to your loved one. Think about joining an online community to share your thoughts and feelings with others.

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How to support someone else

* Don’t tell the person it will be okay, it isn’t and may not be for some time.

* Acknowledge the loss and ask the person how they are feeling and then follow their lead; some days they may not want to talk.

* Listen, listen, and listen some more. Try to resist giving advice unless the person asks for it.

* Don’t be afraid to make the person laugh, especially if you can recount a memory or an enjoyable or funny incident spent with the person who has died.

* Check in with the bereaved person, people often find it difficult to reach out and ask for help when they are grieving.

* Make up a care package and fill it with a few of the person’s favourite things. Add food treats and perhaps a magazine or a book and maybe put in a facemask or some nail polish, a bath bomb or a pack of cards.

Finally, says Felicity: “Understand that you cannot make the person feel better, but you can support them while they adjust and work their way through this painful experience. Let them know it is okay not to be okay at this time and that you understand that.”