Tips on How to Help Someone Deal with Loss

How have you dealt with the loss of a loved one? What has helped you? What hasn't?

On Monday's "Anderson," Gloria Vanderbilt joins Anderson to discuss surviving loss and rebuilding a life in the aftermath.

Guests discuss the awkwardness that can occur with friends and family who are unsure how to help someone dealing with grief.

People often say things they think are harmless, but are, in fact, quite offensive. Others don't say anything at all… when the only thing their friend needs is someone at their side.

As seen on the show, below are tips from expert Dr. Robin L. Smith on how to help someone who has recently dealt with the loss of a loved one.

Talk and Listen to Others, No Matter What
Yes, it will be awkward to talk to a friend or family member who has recently experienced a loss, whether it was expected or not. Because of this awkwardness, many people shy away from having that conversation, but shying away is the wrong thing to do. Stand by your friend's side, and let them know you are there to talk and to listen, even if that feels awkward for you.

Say, 'I Don't Know What to Say'
When you try to sit down and actually have a conversation with those you love who are in mourning, it can often be hard to know what to say. Be honest about that by simply telling them, "I don't know what to say." Chances are, they don't know what to say either, but at least you won't know what to say together.

Tell Them You Care
If you don't know what to say, a good thing to say is simply that you care. Ask if there is any way you can support them. Letting those who have suffered loss know that there are others in their life who care and are there to support them is an important step loved ones must take.

Do Not Create a Timeline
After a death, it is not unusual for people to send a sympathy card. But what about one month later? Six months later? Six years later? The death of a loved one never truly stops hurting, so let your friend know that your support and understanding of these emotions will never go away either. Check in on them at various times, not just after thedeath.

Do Not Tell Someone, 'I Know How You Feel'
Even if you have suffered the same kind of loss that another person has suffered, such as the suicide of a sibling, or death by cancer of someone you love, do not assume you know how that other person feels. You do not know how they feel -- you know how you feel, and you can open these conversations by stating, "This is the experience I had."

Do Not Tell Someone, 'They're In a Better Place'
The truth is, even if their loved one is in a better place, those surviving loss are still stuck in this place without their loved one. They may feel they would rather be anywhere so long as they are with the passed individual, so telling someone their late loved one is in a better place is typically not helpful.

Do Not Tell Someone, 'They Had a Good Life'
By summarizing a death with the conclusion that at least the person had a good life can make someone surviving loss feel invalidated and as though it's time for them to "get over" the loss.

Download more tips from Dr. Robin L. Smith.

The Importance of Crying
Gloria Vanderbilt: A Life in Photos
Don't Forget Reminders from Monday's Show


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