You’re Not Alone
Grief Support Guide
Grief. It can take so many forms and you often don’t know how you’ll react until you’re living through it. That’s okay. There are no wrong or right ways to approach grief. All you can do is try to deal with your feelings in a way that feels right to you.
If you’re trying to support a family member or friend, figuring out the right things to say or do can seem daunting. Luckily, you’ve already taken the first step towards helping them, simply through the act of caring. But sometimes, you might wish to do a little more to show your support.
Some people feel a sense of support through a thoughtful gift like a card or flowers. Others respond better to you just taking the time to sit, reflect, and share stories with them.
Learn about each and every way you can support others.
Supporting your friends and family does not have to be complicated. Here are just a few powerful ways you can show support to your loved ones during this difficult time:
- Share memories. Stories and memories can be incredibly cathartic during difficult times.
- Be there for them whenever possible, whether it’s as a shoulder to cry on or to help them prepare for a service.
- Listen. All too often, we forget how important just listening can be.
- Give a small gift to show your love and support. It could be flowers, a favorite food, or a book that brings them joy. Small gifts show that you’re there, thinking of them.
Support your family, even the littlest ones.
Children may not understand the details and specifics, but they can often surprise you with their sensitivity and instinctual way of detecting grief. As the adult, you want to find ways to help them celebrate the life of your loved one and enjoy happy memories and stories.
The most important way to support your family is to simply listen to them and pay close attention to the feelings and needs of younger children. If you sense any serious change in behavior, talk to them to try to get to the root of their feelings.
For additional help, refer to this great resource from Sesame Street, which will help your family move forward in a healthy and educated manner.
Get additional resources about support.
No one should have to experience grief alone. If you’re having a difficult time, reach out to friends and family and let them know that you need them there. There’s no shame in asking for help.
If you want to help support a loved one in need, just let them know that you’re there for them, at any hour, for anything. If you need additional help, check out these grief resources.
GriefNet is an Internet community of persons dealing with grief, death, and major loss. They have many email support groups. Their integrated approach to online grief support provides help to people working through loss and grief issues.
- National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
Committed to improving end of life care and expanding access to hospice care with the goal of profoundly enhancing quality of life for people dying in America and their loved ones.
Writing a Eulogy or Obituary
Here are some helpful tips on how to write a eulogy or obituary.
1. Interview family and friends
Don’t feel that the complete weight of remembering your loved one is on your shoulders. Instead, ask family members or friends to share their stories of your loved one. This process itself can be very cathartic, as the act of remembering and sharing can help in the healing process itself.
2. Tell a story (or stories)
Everyone at the service will appreciate your personal memories of your loved one. Don’t worry about remembering each detail, perfectly; just share the details that matter to you. To think about a good story, try out some of these prompts:
- What’s a favorite memory you have?
- What made them laugh?
- What was their proudest moment in life?
- What did they most enjoy?
- What’s a little known fact about your loved one?
These questions will help you to remember some enjoyable stories and can serve as a jumping off point.
3. Don’t think about it as public speaking
Sure, you might be speaking in front of a lot of people. But, no one is judging you or analyzing what you’re saying. They’re simply listening and appreciating, and thinking about their own personal connection to the deceased. However, if you want to feel more confident while delivering your lines, it can be helpful to write everything down in case you experience a moment of nerves up there, as we all often do.
4. Keep it brief
Share as much as you want to share, but don’t feel that you have to overburden yourself with pages of stories. Choose the one or two that are most meaningful to you, and you’ll have a eulogy that truly does justice in celebrating your loved one.
5. Read it out loud
Before the service, read the speech out loud to yourself or to a trusted family member or friend. They’ll help calm any nerves, make any suggestions about what resonates the most with them or pick out any particularly inspirational elements to focus on further.
6. Humor heals
It’s OK, and perfectly acceptable, to be funny or tell a humorous story in a eulogy. At a time that brings sadness to many people, it is important and hugely helpful to be celebrating a life well lived with funny memories and entertaining anecdotes.
7. Take a deep breath
Finally, relax. It can be difficult given all that you’re going through right now, but be at peace knowing that you’re honoring and celebrating your loved one.
Looking for some inspiration of what others in your situation wrote when they were in your shoes? Here are some examples of some truly inspiring words written in honor of deceased celebrities. And just remember, speak what you feel and your eulogy will turn out perfectly.
When a loved one has passed away, writing an obituary that honors their life can seem overwhelming. Don’t worry – your obituary will honor their life simply by the act of you writing it. You want to celebrate your loved one’s life and offer happy or enjoyable memories. You are helping to ease the pain of others simply by telling a story about your loved one.
We hope that this checklist will take the stress and pressure off of you and allow you to honor your loved one simply. Remember, your funeral arranger is an experienced professional, and he/she is a valuable resource for writing the obituary.
1. Include all the basic details about the person’s life.
You don’t have to include all of this information, but here are the basics that are often included in an obituary. Choose the elements that are most relevant to your loved one:
- Any familial survivors
- When the person retired, if relevant
- Any military affiliations
- Any volunteer affiliations
2. Include funeral information.
Family and friends often rely on an obituary for information on when and where a person’s life will be celebrated, so your obituary will make it very simple for them to get that information (and will save you the hassle of having to answer lots of questions at a time when you would prefer not to be bothered with small details). You can include:
- Date and time of the funeral
- Place the funeral is being held
- Any viewing details
- Requests for donations in lieu of flowers