Supporting Families

Professionals working with grieving people

As a professional, it’s important you are sensitive and show you care.

It is not a professional weakness to show your emotions: if you are genuinely moved by a situation and express your feelings by saying “I’m sorry”, or by a touch or gesture, you are showing the bereaved person that it is alright for them to express theirpainful feelings.

The professional’s role to help people progress through the tasks of grieving. In order for people to heal the pain of a traumatic loss they must express their feelings to a supportive, caring person.

Often people worry about what to say to someone who is grieving the loss of an important person in their life. Don’t put off mentioning the dead person: avoiding the topic either colludes in the denial of what has happened, or fails to acknowledge the enormity of the loss that person is experiencing.

Check how well you are communicating by asking the other person what they have heard and understood. In distress, it can be difficult for people to absorb what you tell them, and it is a professional’s responsibility to ensure they have understood.

Listening and communicating

Listening means using all the senses to pick up on what the person is communicating, both orally and subliminally. Listening involves much more than just hearing.

  • Listen with your ears. Hear the words, tone of voice and the feelings being conveyed.
  • Listen with your eyes. Observe body language and facial expressions. Maintain regular eye contact.
  • Listen with your heart. Communicate interest and empathy by tone of voice and body language.
  • Give undivided attention. Notice not only what is being said, but also what is not.Setting time boundaries creates a safe environment and mean the other person knows the interaction won’t end abruptly.
  • Two-way communication. Connect with the other person.

(Information sourced from Child Bereavement UK)