YES, you can support others through their grief

Hello and how are you doing? If you are grieving this may be a loaded question.  If you are wanting to support a grieving individual there are some things you need to know.  Even for those who are grieving, until it is seen in print or mentioned, they may not realize they are experiencing or displaying the following behaviour.

  1. Isolating or wanting to isolate from others

When this point is explored more deeply as a counsellor or someone supporting a grieving individual, ideas may arise to help turn things around for this person.  No one can do the grieving for someone else, but we can help them to take small steps through their loss experiences.

I say “through” with all seriousness.  There is no way around grief.  I have often heard it stated, “To heal is to feel”.  The point being is that the emotions and pain of grief need to be felt by the individual and then gradually there can be a transformation as the individual repositions their loss.

In some cases, this means the individual starts to live life again and sets the heart hurt for the person who died in a special spot in their heart. There is a knowing that the heart hurt can be looked at again at anytime they want to do so in the form of memories.

When you look above, can you see how you could potentially reframe the response or actions?  For example, what could you say to #1, about isolating from others?

Perhaps you could start by explaining how this is a normal reaction to grief and loss.  Note, there are never any judgments to someone’s grief when we are being supportive.  We are not the expert on anyone else’s grief, they are.

Next, you could talk about the benefits of isolation and when it is useful, followed up with comments about when prolonged isolation from others can be detrimental to the individual.  Perhaps you have had similar experiences or know someone who has; this is where you could use examples, especially if your knowledge is of someone who has gone through grief and is now enjoying their life.

Give it a try the next time you are supporting a grieving individual.  Use your basic interpersonal skills and trust yourself.


All my best,

Barbara Gillett Saunders


This article looks at one point to do with grief and loss.

Soon I will be offering individual sessions to help heartfelt counsellors support those

who need it the most with more suggestions and ideas.