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Cancer Diagnosis: Providing Support for the Bereaved

There are many things you can do to assist a bereaved person. These include:

  • Sending cards or flowers
  • Preparing food
  • Providing child care
  • Mowing the lawn
  • Contributing to a cause which is meaningful to the family
  • Offering transportation

You may also consider the following when providing for the bereaved:

  • Be available. Sometimes, grieving people do not want to talk or listen, nor do they want you to talk or listen. They simply want you to be there for them. Silence is OK if that is what the bereaved individual wants at the moment.
  • Allow the grieving person the full range of his or her emotions, including anger and bitterness, which may be sometimes expressed against the doctors, God, or even the loved one who has died.
  • Be patient and understanding, but not patronizing. Do not claim to know how the other person is feeling. Do not force the person to talk or share feelings if he or she does not want to.
  • Do not be concerned about mentioning the deceased person's name or sharing a fond memory of the person while in the company of the bereaved. They, too, are thinking about the deceased person, so it is acceptable and natural to bring the name into conversation.
  • Remember that grieving takes time and is a natural human process. No matter how much you want to "stop the hurt," bereaved people must endure the grieving process. Allow them to grieve and care for them as they move through the process.

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