Tips on Grief Counseling

Personally helping or knowing anyone going through grief counseling is not easy. People deal with grief in different ways. Every individual's reactions are different when dealing with a loss, and grief may also be greatly impacted depending on how a friend or loved one died. Knowing some tips regarding grief counseling may help both you and the grieving person in one of the most difficult situations you may have to deal with.

  1. Listen

    • Anyone involved in grief counseling should know how to listen. Really listen. At times, there's nothing you can do but lend a silent shoulder. Allow the grieving person to express their anger, denial and loss in their own way, as long as she is not hurting herself. Avoid offering hollow-sounding platitudes such as "I understand your loss." No you can't. You can understand your own, but not the specific feelings that another grieving person might be going through.

    Watch Your Body Language

    • When listening to a person who is pouring his heart out to you, or even watching someone who has turned inward because of his grief, let him know your attention is focused solely on him. Make eye contact. Lean slightly toward him, which displays a sense of openness on your part to listen to anything the grieving person wants to say. Be relaxed and expressive through gestures, but resist hugging or otherwise touching a grieving person unless you are sure he would welcome any such gesture.

    Things to Avoid

    • When helping someone who is grieving, don't be so quick to offer your opinion regarding everything she says. Don't ask a lot of questions or encourage the person to discuss the actual death event right away. While you want to allow the person to express herself, don't encourage her to talk nonstop about anything in particular, but try to help her focus on her immediate fears or concerns. Avoid the urge to interpret everything that the grieving person says. Remember, she is shocked and confused and may say things in a way that you might misinterpret. Never let your gaze wander or make gestures such as checking your watch or fidgeting with keys or other items to avoid giving the person the impression that you're in a hurry and don't care about her feelings.

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