Message from Mary Nordtvedt, RN, BSN
Faith Community Nurse


Mary Nordtvedt

From Your Faith Community Nurse ...

Thoughts on How to Be Supportive to Those Who are Grieving 

The healing grief journey is unique and different for each person. As a part of a caring faith community, each of us offers care and support to our friends and family that are grieving.  With permission, I am sharing suggestions on being a supportive friend to an individual that is grieving written by Sondra Weinziel, Faith Community Nurse.

Losing a loved one is one of the most painful events in our lives. When deaths occur in our church family, we care deeply, and yet it can be hard knowing what to say or how to help. We may worry we’ll “upset” the person who is grieving or bring their emotions to the surface. But our own discomfort can, ironically, cause the grieving person to feel even more alone and sad.  In this article are some reminders, based on grief research, which may guide individuals in offering supportive comments and gestures.

One might say:

“I’m so sorry you’re going through this.”

 “This is such a hard time for you and I want you to know I care and am praying for you.”

 “One thing I’ll always remember about _____________is__________.

Talk about the person who has died. Use his/her name. Sometimes we assume it’s hard for the grieving person to talk about their loved one. But, in almost all cases, their biggest fear is that their loved one will be forgotten. Share a brief story about their loved one or mention how much the person meant to you. Invite them to share a story of their loved one.

Avoid saying things such as:

“It’s for the best,”

 “He’s in a better place,”

 “It’s a blessing.”

 “I know just how you feel.”

 “You’ll get over it.”

 “It’s God’s will.”

These clichés aren’t helpful and often hurt more than heal.

Respect each person’s time line for grieving. Don’t say, “It’s time to move on,” or act as if the person is taking too long to “get over it.” In reality, we never “get over” the loss of a loved one. We learn to live a different life … and each person needs to grieve in his/her own way.

Show patience, kindness and a willingness to really listen. 

Henri Nouwen shares wisdom through this quote: “The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion; who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not healing…that is a friend that cares.”





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Last Published: July 19, 2019 1:07 PM
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