An Open Letter to You From a Griever

person uses pen on book First of all, I want you to know that I understand that you want to help me with my grief. Second, I know that you mean well in what you say and do for me. Third, I get that you really care, but I have some things I need to tell you so that you can help me in better ways. And remember, I am telling you this because I care about you as my friend.

    • Simply be there for me. Your presence and your availability when I need help most is what I really need.   Don’t hover or try to direct me. Just be there for me. I need to know that I am not alone during the darkest, most painful times of my grief
    • Just listen to me. You don’t have to say anything…just listen. I have this overwhelming need to remember my loved one, to recall my favorite memories and to share my grief experience honestly. When you just listen to me without judging or giving advice, it makes me feel like what I think, feel and talk about is important to someone besides just me. Your listening validates my feelings, my grief and me as a worthy, normal person
    • Don’t try to fix me or solve my struggles. You can’t. Nothing you say or do will solve things or my life at this moment. The only thing that would fix me or my grief now would be if someone brought my loved one back from the dead. And that won’t happen. I’m not looking for solutions or quick fixes…just listening ears and a caring heart.
    • Let me know that you have heard me. Reflect back to me what you hear. I simply want to be heard and understood.
    • Let me know I am safe to share whatever I need to share with you.   Keep what I share between us. Remember that when I show my true self and grief emotions openly and freely, I am saying that you make me feel safe to do so.
    • And when you do speak, let me know how much you care. Sprinkle your words with encouragement and support rather than empty platitudes and clichés. 

      Written by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble or

      The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunica Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” on

      Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX