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Syndicated Columns

Bereaved need a listener

Posted Jan 27, 2007


Q. What can I say or do to help my friends who are dealing with loss? And can you comment on the grieving process? -- F.G., Boca Raton

A. Usually words can't comfort the grieving, and nothing can change what has happened. So, being with the bereaved is the best we can do.

The bereaved need companions who will truly listen, so the more you remain silent, the more your friends will feel heard.

You can offer to assist in doing small tasks such as cooking, marketing and household organization.

Grief has a series of stages: shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and then acceptance. The goal is to come to terms with loss and accept that it is real and permanent.

It is important to remember that your own relationship with loss will influence the way you attend to others.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, author of On Death and Dying, states: "Death is simply a shedding of the physical body like the butterfly shedding its cocoon. It is a transition to a higher state of consciousness where you continue to perceive, to understand, to laugh, and to be able to grow."

Understanding and accepting death as a natural part of life will enhance your own spiritual development. Let us look at what death offers those who are living.

As you explore the issues of life, death, mortality and grieving, remember the wisdom of Norman Cousins, who said: "Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live."

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