Counseling the Grieving
What is “taboo” when counseling – what things should I not say?
Do not devalue or negate their experience: “Oh, that’s not true.” “It will get better.”
Do not go from their expression to talking about yourself: “I know exactly how you feel. I lost my grandmother and it was painful too. She lived in Cleveland, and. . . .” Remember, this is about them and not you.
Don’t give easy answers.
Don’t try to make it all better. Your presence will do that.
Don’t feel the responsibility to make them feel better. You can’t, other than by showing care.
Say and do things that express your care. Let them know you hear and understand them. Empathize with statements such as, “I cannot imagine how hard this must be for you.” Encourage them that you will be with them; and if there is anything they need or you can do that you will be glad to help. Don’t be afraid to ask them specifically how you can help. Tell them that you will remember them in your prayers.