Assisting the bereaved

Supporting someone through their loss can be confusing and difficult. Sometimes it feels like you don't know the words to say or how to respond. We're here to help you be there for your loved ones and make sure you take care of yourself.

Assisting bereaved adults

How Can I Help?

There are many things you can do to support the bereaved, whether you take a bag of essential groceries to their house, or attend a counselling or support group with them. It doesn't have to be a big gesture to be supportive, but it makes a big difference to the bereaved.

Do's and Don'ts - When assisting someone newly bereaved by suicide

Do's: 

  • Listen - be comfortable with silence and tears - assure them by your warmth and interest that you care.
  • Rather than showing your shock at their comments and behaviour, assure them that their reactions are normal even if appearing to be bizarre.
  • Ask them, "What do you need now?", "Is there someone you'd like to phone and have them come over now?"
  • Accept each person as unique and avoid comparing with other's losses.

Don'ts:

  • Do not use the term 'committed suicide' as it has the connotation of a criminal act (like committed a crime) and it would be more appropriate to say 'they took their own life' or 'they suicided'.
  • Do not rush them to do anything.
  • Do not try to fix people - most people adapt to loss by ventilating in an accepting and validating environment.
  • Do not say "I know how you feel", even if you have had a similar experience.
  • Do not panic if someone begins to sob uncontrollably, and do not seek to cheer them up or calm them down prematurely - tears are often very healing.

Strategies for Supporting Yourself

  • Do not do it on your own. Find someone who you can share the load with and talk to - maybe friends, family or a professional.
  • Get other people involved who can help you to support the person.
  • Take time out for yourself.
  • Continue to do the things that you enjoy.

In an Emergency

Samaritans: 135 247
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800

Crisis/After Hours Support

Samaritans: 135 247
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800
Youth Focus: 6266 4333
Mental Health Response Line: 1300 555 788
ATAPS: 1800 859 585
 

Assisting Children and Young People

When Children and Young People experience grief, they have much the same emotions as adults. Their sadness may be shown in different ways, but ensure communication, reassurance and comfort, as these are important to their understanding and healing.

Children need reassurance and honesty. When explaining to them what has happened, be clear and honest (age appropriate) about the situation.

Children may deal with their grief through different behaviours within their daily routine or may act out in 'scenes' in their playtime. This is all part of the processing and dealing with their loss. It is important to normalise and keep their routines consistent as much as possible. ARBOR works with parents to help them support their children through this time.

Children learn from your behaviour and look to you and your grieving for some reassurance and understanding as to how they should be behaving through this time. Young people too need reassurance and affection through their grieving.

The teenage years are already difficult years, as many mixed and highly strung emotions are at the forefront, and additions to this can be very overwhelming. Furthermore, it can be quite struggled for young people to communicate their emotions. Talking to them and being open and honest, welcoming their emotions, can help through their grieving journey.

Run by Anglicare WA, CYPRESS is a free and long-term support service for children and young people between the ages of 6 and 18 who have been bereaved by suicide. Support is offered with outreach, counselling, support groups and more.

Children & Young People Responsive Suicide Support (CYPRESS)

Feeling lost?

Anglicare WA offers a wide range of services and with almost 50 service locations across WA, we’re never too far away.

If you’re not sure where to go, call us on 1300 11 44 46.