Editor’s Note: In any caregiving situation, we remind our readers to remember the Caregiving Basics: Pray, Listen, Respect the Grief Journey and Preserve the Dignity of the Person. This post is an overview of Respect the Grief Journey.

Grief is a normal and natural experience by which a person makes a healthy adjustment to any significant loss in his or her life.  For example, the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, a broken marriage, deterioration of health, or a shattered dream might trigger a potential grief response.

Grief counseling professionals have noted that most people experience some or all of the following emotional responses when they lose anything or anyone important in their lives:

  • Shock
  • Denial
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Acceptance

Although some people may move through these emotions in a sequential pattern, it’s also possible that they will experience only some of these emotions. Or, they may circle back and experience the emotion several times before they move, hopefully, to some form of “acceptance.”

When you understand that grief is a journey, as a caregiver, you will:

  • Know what to expect.
  • Be more comfortable with the grieving person.
  • Respond more effectively by being present, listening, and accepting the person’s various emotional responses.

Five tips for helping those who grieve are:

1. Listen to their story.
2. Don’t give advice or try to “fix it” for the person.
3. Remember that grief is a journey and as such, it takes time.
4. Don’t offer your story unless asked. This is not about you.
5. Avoid clichés like “God doesn’t promise a rose garden.”

For more reading on helping others during their grief, please see our Respect the Grief Journey page.



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