Debbie R. asks “when you see someone who has experienced the death of a loved one should you ask how she is feeling and express your sympathy or is it best to ‘move on’ and try to have an everyday conversation?”
While every person handles grief differently, here is what Nichole Schwerman, Bereavement Coordinator at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin says.
“The worst thing you can do in that situation is ignore the death of your friend’s loved one. Most bereaved individuals find comfort in the fact that others remember their loss, especially as time goes on. Mentioning the death and sincerely inquiring about how he or she is feeling will not make him or her MORE sad. On the contrary: it shows you care and it opens the door for your friend to talk about it if he or she wants to. Follow your friend’s lead and make it known in your words or actions that you are available to talk and listen.”
Some conversation starters include “I was thinking about (name of bereaved) and how (share a story)…” and “tell me a story about…” If all else fails a simple”Know that you have been in my thoughts and prayers” works.
Schwerman also writes “Months after the death, when everyone else’s lives have gone on, many bereaved people feel left behind and forgotten. Grief doesn’t end at three months or six months; remembering what he or she is continuing to go through will most likely be healing and comforting.”