Page 28 - McAdams
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Always be mindful that your friend’s grief is unique. No two people will respond to the death of someone they love in exactly the same way. While it may be possible to talk about similar phases or stages shared by grieving people, everyone is different and shaped by their own culture and experiences. Be patient as people find their own path, in their own time, and encourage them to express their feelings and needs. When it is appropriate, you may also want to discretely help others understand the necessity of giving your mutual friend the space they need for their individual journey.
Your presence at the visitation, funeral or other memorial event is important. These gatherings – whether formal or casual - provide an opportunity for you to express your love and concern at this time of need. While we gather to pay tribute to a life that has now passed, the more crucial role of these events is creating the opportunity for the community to offer support to grieving family and friends. As we mentioned, words can be difficult but, at the funeral, your physical presence; looking into their eyes, a warm handshake, a hand on the shoulder, or, when appropriate, a comforting hug can all communicate much more than any words will.
Remember that those who grieve are not trying to forget. Quite the opposite, it’s common to fear that they will forget. Their loved one lives on in their memory and most are grateful to know that you too are keeping that memory alive. Share your favourite story about the person who died. Talk about special qualities that you valued in him or her. These words will often be a loving gift to your grieving friend. Whether related in person or in a note or sympathy card, those words will be recalled or reread for years. And don’t be afraid to speak their name. Hearing that name can be comforting, and it confirms that they have not been forgotten.

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