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A list of Dos and Don'ts

DO - say how sorry you are, by letter or phone or as soon as you next see them.

DO - attend the funeral if you knew the person who has died.

DO - let the bereaved person talk about their loss and express grief, as much or as often as they want. Going over and over what happened is a normal part of bereavement.

DO - be patient and understanding, and encourage them to be patient and understanding with themselves.

DO - encourage them to take care of themselves – to eat and rest properly, and to see their doctor if they are worried about their health.

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DON’T - change the subject when bereaved people talk about their loss.

DON’T – say “I know how you feel”. Even if you have experienced a similar loss. Others will not feel exactly as you felt.

DON’T - try to soothe away the pain by saying “it was a merciful release”, “Time heals” or “Try to think about something else”. However well meant, such remarks seldom help when grief is at its most intense.

DON’T – give advice unless it is asked for.

DON’T – make offers of help you cannot keep.

DON’T – assume that bereaved people should have got over the loss by a certain time. Grieving nearly always takes longer than we think.

Read more about helping a bereaved person on the national website.