5. Listen

A bereaved person desperately needs a listener who is accepting, supportive and willing to listen patiently to stories that are often repetitive. Each time the story is told, the finality of the death sinks in a little more.

It is therapeutic for bereaved people to repeat sad stories frequently; it helps them to grasp the reality of the death. When I meet someone who has not come to terms with the death of someone who died years before, I ask how many times the person has told the story. About seventy-five percent of the time they say they have seldom talked about it. And when they tell me about their loved one's death, it is as if it happened just last week.

When feelings of anger, frustration, anxiety, depression, relief, disappointment, fear and sadness are expressed, accept those feelings. If the survivor keeps them bottled inside, they will slow the healing process. Sharing thoughts and emotions lessens the pain. Try to not pass judgment on what you hear. Unless you have walked the same road, you cannot possibly understand all that another person needs to work through.