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Fact Sheet

Communicating about grief with your family and friends


Telling family about your loss

After someone dies it can be hard for everyone to adjust. Family members might argue with each other more often, and sometimes being with your family can be uncomfortable for you. However, it can also be a time when you can grieve together.

Try to be understanding of your family’s reactions. Doing things together like having dinner, playing a sport or hanging out talking about some of the things you’re feeling might help you all to better understand how each other grieves.

Don’t be afraid to talk about the person who has died. You might not want to mention that person for fear of upsetting others, but don’t forget that your family members and friends are probably already upset, even though they might not be showing it. The silence created by not talking about the person who has died might make your family members feel like that person was not significant, or that this person didn’t exist at all.

Telling friends

Friends of the person who has died might have deep feelings of grief as well. Like you, they may also want to have something of their friend. Try and be sensitive to their requests.

Including these people into your grieving might help you get through your own loss. Friends may also be a great source of support, and good people to talk to about some of the major decisions you need to make.

Coping with other people’s reactions

Chances are your friends won’t know what to do or say to make you feel better. This can be difficult for both you and the people who are trying to support you. It may help to let them know how you’re feeling and that it might take time for you to get back into your normal routine. If there are things that your friends and relatives could do to help you out, it may be a good idea to let them know.

People may ask you a whole lot of questions that you may not want, or are not ready, to answer. It’s O.K. to tell people that you aren’t ready to talk, and that you’ll let them know when you are ready.

For more information

While it’s important to get support from your friends and family, you might find that you need to speak with someone who’s removed from the situation, like a mental health professional or minister or other spiritual leader.

Acknowledgments

Some of the information is adapted from the book After Suicide, Help For The Bereaved by Sheila Clark. Published in 1995 by Hill of Content Publishing Company Pty Ltd, Melbourne 3000.

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