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How To Comfort Someone Who Is Grieving

Today I’m happy to host Corrie Sirota here. Corrie’s book, Someone Died… Now What?, is out now and I requested her to guest post here. I will also be sharing my review of the book and a fantastic giveaway.

Corrie Sirota holds a Masters degree in Social Work as well as a Graduate Certificate in Loss and Bereavement from McGill University (Montreal) where she has been teaching as a lecturer in the School of Social Work for over 20 years. Corrie is a licensed psychotherapist who currently maintains a private practice specializing in Loss and Bereavement, Parenting issues and Relationship issues. She is a well-known lecturer who regularly presents at conferences and workshops, both locally and abroad. Working in the Montreal Community for over 2 decades, Corrie has developed numerous prevention and intervention programs for families, children and professionals, students and various community agencies as well as Day and Residential Camps.

corrie-sirota

Corrie has also written numerous articles and blog posts and is regularly interviewed on local radio, news and TV programs to consult on issues relating to loss and bereavement, Child Development and Parenting.

Connect with her : Website Twitter Facebook

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How to comfort someone who is grieving

Why do we even have to ask this question? It’s as if when a death occurs something happens to us that makes us uncomfortable and all common sense goes out the window.

People who are grieving are not ill, they are sad, they are hurting, they need to know that their world (that was just turned upside down) is going to find a sense of equilibrium again.
The Problem is – Grievers don’t know that.
The Solution: It doesn’t matter what they know or don’t know – as a multitude of factors will be at play in relation to how the mourners will cope.

My suggestion is simple: Rather than stressing about ‘doing the right thing’ or ‘the wrong thing’ – just do something! All the while keeping in mind who the mourner is – they are not you, therefore, their needs and what they may want will be very different from what you think will be helpful.

For example:One family I worked with, the mother had died suddenly. When friends came into the house, in their effort to help they moved, reorganized and changed the family’s entire kitchen. This act, albeit done for support, was very unsettling to the family.

Therefore, before you jump into action – stop and ask them, “What do you need now?” If they can’t answer, don’t despair, suggest some concrete things e.g. car pool, cook a meal, run an errand. Be there. Listen.

Do not compare your losses, or shy aware. Do not say “I know how you feel”. Let them guide you through discussions.

Remember triggers such as holidays, anniversaries and birthdays. You can’t take away the pain but you can comfort the mourner by simply remembering to remember!

~ Corrie Sirota

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Book Description

Corrie’s book Someone Died… Now What? is a GPS for grieving. Corrie Sirota provides Guidance, Perspective and Support to help navigate through the grief process. Whether someone you love has died or someone you know is struggling with a loss, this book addresses many of the issues and questions that surface, providing concrete assistance on what to do immediately following a death, how to deal with feelings of sadness, anger and guilt, non-death losses and how to support grieving children. You will learn that grief is an ongoing process, and is as unique and individual as you are.

Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

My review:  [rating=4]

If you’ve just lost a loved one or are still grieving, Corrie’s statement that ‘grief is a process, not an event’ holds good for you. The book helps you understand the grieving process and your own responses to the death of a loved one. I appreciate that the author included an entire chapter on the ‘forgotten mourners’ – children.

I also found the chapter on ‘secondary losses’ very interesting. When we lose someone, we also lose a role – an integral part of ourselves. For example, a wife ceases to be a wife when she loses a husband, and the loss of a sibling is a loss of your role as a brother or a sister.  Also, often such losses bring accompanying financial loss, which make the situation even harder. The book guides readers in the direction of finding their ‘new normals’, as the author calls them.

The book also deals with ‘non-death’ losses and how we process them. It also offers good advice on how we can comfort mourners.

This is a fantastic resource book for us all. Because we’ve all suffered loss at sometime or the other.

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Win 1 of 5 copies of Someone Died: Now What?
Two winners will also receive 1 of 2 $10 Amazon gift cards

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please note that this Rafflecopter and Giveaway is hosted by iRead Book Tours and is being hosted across several blogs. They are overseeing the drawing and assume full responsibility for all aspects of this contest, including notification and prize fulfillment.

iread-book-tours   Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from iRead Book Tours to review. However, the opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

Linking in to the Literacy Musing Mondays Blog Hop on Mary-andering Creatively.

27 Comments

  1. Gilly Maddison Gilly Maddison October 17, 2015

    This is a very helpful post and I am sure the book is equally useful too in helping us understand how to deal with grief. Like many others, I find it particularly hard to know what to say to people who just lost someone. Only this week I was at a funeral and dreaded the moment when I had to speak to the family members. What do you say? This post makes me think maybe it’s ok to say nothing and just be there. Give a hug and listen rather than speak I guess. I think I learned something here.

  2. Suzy Suzy October 12, 2015

    I don’t think there is any formula. When my dad passed away, my mom needed the whole world around her to talk to her and do things and console her, my brother needed to get out of the house and do things – life was just the same and one had to be practical etc, and I just wanted to be alone and treasure my memories and think of him and grieve.

    • Ramya Ramya October 19, 2015

      So true … When my dad passed away my mom wanted people dear to her around… And i wanted a quiet time to myself….

  3. Anne Louise Bannon Anne Louise Bannon October 9, 2015

    I love Ms Sirota’s question at the beginning. Why do we even need to ask how to help someone grieve? We aren’t trained to deal with others’ grief, nor do we even know the standard condolences, which, while platitudes, are the best place to start. That’s something I need to work on, myself.

    Thanks for the great post.

  4. Sarah Sarah October 9, 2015

    What a great resource to have and some excellent pointers there too. I have had two major losses in my life and I think the hardest thing was the fact that people avoided me because they simply didn’t know what to say. The result was that I felt even more isolated than I needed to be. All I really needed was someone to just sit with me whilst I processed my grief. Thanks for posting. xx

  5. Leslie Leslie October 8, 2015

    Thanks for your review. People grieve for many reasons other than death (for example, chronic illness). Does this book cover any of them?

  6. Kathy Kathy October 8, 2015

    Hi Corinne! What a valuable resource because most of us don’t really have a clue what to do or say when the loved one of someone we know passes away. I think it is so tempting to say, “I know how you feel” or try to share your stories of loss when those are really not what needs to happen! I’m sure Corrie’s book would be helpful to us all. ~Kathy

    • Corrie Sirota Corrie Sirota October 8, 2015

      Dear Kathy,
      Thanks for the kind feedback – it is my sincere hope that my book provides validation and support to anyone who experiences the death of a loved one. May you or no one you know never need it – but if you do – it’s available for your support. Warmly, Corrie

  7. Vinitha Vinitha October 7, 2015

    When my father passed away I wanted to talk about it but people around me tried to avoid the topic after saying “Sorry for your loss.” I know it is a difficult subject to deal with. Even I don’t know to behave when someone loses their beloved. Be there as a support and as good listener without offering advises would be the right thing to do.

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | October 7, 2015

      Somehow I feel that we Indians are very uncomfortable with other people’s grief, Vinitha. I’ve heard the stupidest things being said at funerals.
      Sometimes, no words are required but a listening heart will do. Thank you for sharing your experience.

      • Ramya Ramya October 19, 2015

        Agree with u on this corinne… I had similar experience when i lost my dad… People said the wierdest of things… Sometimes i feel .. at such times its best they dont say anything a simple hug would do..

  8. Laurie Stone Laurie Stone October 7, 2015

    As someone who lost their father recently, these words meant a lot. As Corrie said, grief is a process, not an event. It takes a long time for the reality to sink in, that you’ll never see this person again. After several months, I”m just now coming to terms with the death of my beloved father.

  9. nabanita nabanita October 6, 2015

    You know I often find myself at a loss of words on such occasions…Just in the beginning of this year my favorite teacher’s husband died in an unfortunate and brutal accident..She is the one who gave me this love for writing ..But I just couldn’t find the courage to pick up the phone and call her..What would I tell her?? What could anyone tell her? It was only a few months later that I chatted with her and told her that I’m with her..I even apologized for not calling..All my friends called her but i just couldn’t! I still can’t decide if what I did was wrong or it was okay because she knew what she is to me and that I’m with her

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | October 6, 2015

      Thanks for sharing, Nabanita. I’ve found that at times like this, a letter or even an email is less intrusive than a phone call.

      • Corrie Sirota Corrie Sirota October 8, 2015

        Your honesty is refreshing Nabanita. Given that we are all so unique each of us handles grief and loss in our own way – it takes a lot of courage to approach someone during their time of mourning – you may have not been ready immediately nevertheless, you recognized what you had to do in your own time and you did it – not every one does!

  10. Lata Lata October 6, 2015

    An important guide Corinne….we are too often at a loss as to how to best comfort someone who is grieving and too often mess it up as a result.

  11. Alana Alana October 6, 2015

    My childhood best friend died about three weeks ago. I’ve known her husband for 43 years. I know her two sisters, her son. I, especially want to reach out to the family but I don’t know exactly how. I want her husband to know we (my husband and I) won’t forget him.

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | October 6, 2015

      I think the best way forward is to ask them, like Corrie suggested, Alana.
      Also, I know how difficult the loss of a childhood friend must be for you as well. I know that you’ve been writing about your final goodbye and her passing in your blog, and expressing your grief that way. Hugs.

  12. Eli Eli October 6, 2015

    Thanks Corinne, for introducing Corrie… very useful and for me- accurate tips.. I think sometimes people get so “lost” they avoid rather than comfort… Great post

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | October 6, 2015

      You’re welcome, Eli. I think avoidance is one way that people choose when they don’t quite know how to respond to the person in mourning.

  13. Anamika Agnihotri Anamika Agnihotri October 5, 2015

    I would like to read this book and have it in my book shelf. My aim is to be well equipped before any tragedy strikes my life. I tried entering the Give Away but was unable to leave my comment in the first field. And Amazon India is not selling it as paperback presently.

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | October 6, 2015

      I know what you mean about reading this ahead of something, Anamika.

      You commented on this post – so all you have to do is tick to say you did. Please try again. The book has just been released, so I guess it’s not available in India.

      I remembered our conversation about e-books! You can start with this one I guess, if you have the Kindle app. 🙂

  14. Mary Hill Mary Hill October 5, 2015

    Great review. I hope you will share on Literacy Musing Mondays. I also found the loss of a role as important. When I lost my father, I lost being his daughter? I am not sure about that. I feel like I will always be his daughter just like if I lost my husband, I will always be known as his wife or widow. I hope i never experience the later though. Thanks for sharing.

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | October 5, 2015

      Thanks, Mary. Yes, I plan to share it. Just wanted to wait until I was ready to comment on the other blogs.

      I understand your doubt. I think what the author meant is that for many people their roles are a part of their identity. So when asked: Who are you?, they would reply ‘I am so-and-so’s wife/daughter, etc. With the death of their loved one, they lose the person and also their role.

      • Corrie Sirota Corrie Sirota October 8, 2015

        Yes, that is exactly what I meant, and it is part of what I refer to as secondary losses. The primary loss is the death of the loved one, however, there are so many additional losses that we encounter as a result of that loss – these can often go unrecognized yet they can be extremely difficult to navigate. The first step in healing is to acknowledge their existence. Thanks for your understanding Corinne.

  15. Kathy Kathy October 5, 2015

    Excellent advice. Often people are simply at a loss as to how to offer comfort. It’s a tricky subject.

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | October 5, 2015

      It is difficult, Kathy. We really need to learn what the right approach is.

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