It’s often hard to know what to say or do when someone you care about is grieving. You may be afraid of intruding, saying the wrong thing, or making the person feel even worse. Or maybe you feel there’s little you can do to make things better. While you can’t take away the pain of the loss, you can provide much-needed comfort and support. There are many ways to help a grieving friend or family member, starting with letting the person know you care.
Here are some suggestions on what to say to someone who has lost a loved one:
- Acknowledge the situation. Example: “I heard that your_____ died.” Use the word “died” That will show that you are more open to talk about how the person really feels.
- Express your concern. Example: “I’m sorry to hear that this happened to you.”
- Be genuine in your communication and don’t hide your feelings. Example: “I’m not sure what to say, but I want you to know I care.”
- Offer your support. Example: “Tell me what I can do for you.”
- Ask how he or she feels, and don’t assume you know how the bereaved person feels on any given day.
*Source: American Cancer Society
Click here for more tips with detailed info on how to help a grieving person in your life http://www.helpguide.org/mental/helping_grieving.htm
Safe Crossings Foundation’s Tribute Pages are a perfect way for remembering a loved one and inviting your friends and family to participate in sharing and paying tribute. In addition, a Tribute Page can be set up to celebrate any special event such as a wedding, marathon or anniversary.
You can then promote your Tribute within your network in order to raise funds for children who are grieving and in need of support.
Set up is easy and free. Please contact Safe Crossings Foundation staff today to find out more: email@example.com or 206.652.4723.
Below you’ll find a sample of one of our donor Tribute Pages.
In Memory of Jim Sackett
I would rather be ashes than dust!
I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot.
I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
The function of man is to live, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time.
~ Jack London, “Credo”
Dear Friends and Family,
On November 9th, it will have been 10 years since Jim left his planet to be a magnificent glow somewhere else in the universe. His life had an incredible, significant and positive impact on my life. When I first met Jim, I was a timid, just out of graduate school, 30 years old. He held my hands and dared me to live “out loud” to “show up”, to take a ride with him on a journey into the amazing unknown. For what he taught me, for the life he led me into, and for his resilience and charisma I will be eternally grateful. For the blessing of Zane and Lauren, I am humbled.
I created this tribute to Jim for two reasons; to honor Jim and to raise money to support children, like Zane and Lauren, that have lost a parent.
Losing a loved one at any age is never easy. In moments your life can change so suddenly and nothing about that experience seems fair or makes any sense. The grief process impacts each and every child differently. One of the hardest things to do is to be able to find joy after loss. Sometimes reflecting on the fondest memories with the person one has lost becomes a healthy and helpful way to cope. A woman tells her story of losing her father at 10 in her story “Finding Gratitude and Happiness”, and how she was able to find happiness after such great loss by learning from him and his way of life.
“I have done my best to fill my life up with everything that is important — love, family, happiness. I’ve made the decision to feel grateful for the small pleasures in life and to do my best not to dwell on the little ways life is not always perfect. Am I always successful? Of course not. And that’s ok. We all need to be sad sometimes and mourn both the small and big disappointments in our lives. But, for me at least, it’s not ok to let this sadness consume me. To become who I am.”
Read the full story by clicking here.
You can find many other inspiring stories and helpful resources about dealing with grief at The New York Life Foundation.
Being a mom or dad is hard enough. Parenting through grief? Well, that can be utterly overwhelming. It is uncharted waters for most parents who often find themselves wishing someone would just write a guidebook with all the answers. Luckily Jade Richardson Bock and Dr. Craig Pierce did just that. In their new book called Parenting through Grief: The Attunetion Approach, Bock and Pierce give parents the advice and tools they need to help their grieving children.
So maybe it doesn’t have all the answers, but it comes pretty close. The two authors have years of clinical experience working with grieving families and have also both experienced loss as young children. Their ability to draw from professional and personal experience makes them the perfect authors on the subject.
If you or someone you know needs help, please check out their book. It can be purchased here for $12.95.
“Parenting Through Grief is everything you would want it to be: clear, honest, wise, filled with helpful illustrations, and most of all hope. This is a wonderfully written guide by one who knows the way. Every school, church, family should have a copy.”
– Paula D’Arcy, Author of Gift of the Red Bird and When People Grieve
”Death happens to everyone. It will be a hard and difficult time. But there are people there to help you, because they care. Please keep supporting Safe Crossings – it helps everyone.” ~ Riley Frisk, former Camp Erin camper
Yes, death happens to everyone and the younger you are the less it makes sense. No matter what the budget, a gift to Safe Crossings Foundation can help kids right here in our region. We call them outcomes, but they are really mini miracles for the kids they help.
• $5,000 sponsors an eight-week school-based grief support group
• $1,000 supports a six-week long support group for 10 families
• $750 sponsors a Camp Erin “camper-ship” for one child
• $500 covers the cost of 4 counselors’ visits to the home of a grieving child
• $150 sponsors one grieving child to attend summer day-camp in 2015
Please consider a gift to Safe Crossings Foundation today. You’ll be making a very real and measurable impact on the lives of the kids we serve. Thank you!
Blogger Mary Tyler Mom wrote a great column about grief for ChicagoNow, an online blog forum. After having her oldest daughter die from cancer, talk of death became commonplace in her family’s home. Now, as a member of her extended family has passed away and her children are a bit older, she discusses how to teach her sons about grief.
Below is an excerpt from the blog and the link to the full story:
“We believe strongly that the lessons we teach our sons about death and grieving as children will shape their experience with these two inevitabilities of life as they grown older. There is no protecting our boys from the reality of death. That is simply not an option for our family. Instead, we embrace these things as opportunities to feel, to express, to support. My goal is to do as I want my sons to learn. Pay my respects, give hugs and support to the grieving, and honor a full life well lived. I see doing that with my children as an opportunity to teach and learn how death and grief and practicing empathy are part of life.”
Read the rest here.
Love it or hate it, social media is becoming an increasingly large part of our lives. It is a new medium through which we can express ourselves, interact with one another, and even grieve. Feelings of grief are often too painful or personal to discuss in person, and sites like Facebook provide a platform to express these feelings and also receive support from your community all from the comfort of your own home. Grief can be isolating, but reaching out for help is often a daunting task. Social media provides a unique way to reach out and be heard, understood, and supported by others.
Here’s an excerpt from the Huffington Post article that explores the issue in depth:
“Those of us on social media are storytellers. We tell our stories because we must — and there are myriad of reasons that compel that impulse. Confronting grief, whether our own or the grief of others is part of the human storyline. Doing so in a public way can only open up new spaces for us to exist in times of darkness and in times of light, as well as in the murky twilight of ordinary instants.”
This is a great read and well recommended.
That’s me, Marci, the little one in the front left of the photograph, the youngest of 10 children. I am also in charge of fundraising for Safe Crossings Foundation. But more importantly, I lost my father on my 12th birthday, so I am qualified to answer this question.
Let me start by telling you my story….
Given the size of my family, I was always surrounded by lots of people. My 12th birthday was a bit different. As my mom brought the ice cream cake (which was purchased for me to share with my buddies at my birthday party) into the dining room packed with friends and relatives, there was not one dry eye in the room as they all sang happy birthday to me. My father had died that morning, but it was still my birthday.
When I woke up for school that fateful morning, I opened the present that was on my pillow. My mom always gave us a present to wake up to. As I was admiring my new present, my sister came into the room we shared and I said, “Look what mom gave me”. My sister replied, “Shut up, dad’s dying”. I have never felt as alone as I did staring across the hall into my parent’s room, as the paramedic rubbed the paddles together and put them on my father’s chest. It was all a blur after that.
My mom had plenty to deal with after my father’s sudden death. In those days, there was no such thing as Camp Erin or grief support services so we all muddled through. I have been dealing with the effects of losing my dad ever since. I acted out in ways that I am not proud of.
I joined Safe Crossings Foundation over 10 years ago as a volunteer and have been working as the Development Director for a year and half. I know that the programs we support help kids to not feel so alone and that, with help, they don’t have to act out. I couldn’t be more proud to work with this organization that strives every day to meet the needs of grieving children in our area.
Of the many programs that the Safe Crossings Foundation helps fund and support, one of our most celebrated is Camp Erin-King County. This is an overnight weekend camp for children and teens in which they get the opportunity to feel supported as well as open about their own grief and internal struggles.
With the staff of Providence Hospice as well as trained volunteers, the children ages 6-18 spend two nights in a camp near Carnation, Washington. There are the normal camp fire, nature walks and group activities of any typical camp but there are also particular activities designed for each age group and events geared toward support through the grief process for each individual. Providence Hospice and the Safe Crossings Program staff work hard to create an environment that has all the wonderful qualities of a classic summer camp experience while also offering the support so many children and teens may need. Safe Crossings Foundation is proud to provide the funding for such a fun and supportive place for children to come to, free of charge.
Although Safe Crossings Foundation helps fund the King County Camp Erin, the Moyer Foundation has started Camp Erins all over the country. Find a Camp Erin near you by clicking here.
For more information on Camp Erin-King County, click here.
Hi folks, we have a bittersweet announcement: soon enough we will be hiring a new Executive Director. It is with sadness but true gratitude that we thank our current Director, Juliana, for all of her hard work and dedication. She will be deeply missed but we know that she is moving on to another chapter in her life and with that we wish her the best of luck!
And here is a note from Juliana:
It is with a heavy heart that I am letting you know that I will be leaving my role as Executive Director at Safe Crossings Foundation this November. Working here for almost 6 years has provided me the privilege of leading an organization that is making a positive impact in the lives of grieving children, while employing my strengths as a strategic thinker and operations junky. I have never had a job that I enjoyed as much or that gave me such deep satisfaction. I am deeply moved by the passion and commitment of our Board of Directors, staff and many loyal and generous donors has to ensuring that no grieving child in our community go without the emotional support they need.
My future focus is to start a practice working with bereaved adults, teaching mindfulness and exploring the possibility of walking the grief path with spirit and faith (however that shows up for people).
Thank you all for your support of me, and your continued support of Safe Crossings Foundation.
And thank you Juliana!