Grief and Loss

Questions About Grief

Questions to Ask Those Who are Suffering From Grief and Loss

We all do it countless times a day.  You pick up the phone, a client comes in for a meeting, or you see someone on the street, and the first thing you say is, “How are you?” Almost invariably, the other person says something like, “I’m fine. How about you?”  In most cases, the question is essentially meaningless.   It has become a standard, polite greeting that doesn’t really expect or desire an answer.   It is merely another variation of “Hello”.

However, when you are dealing with a family member, friend, or loved one who is suffering from grief and loss, here are some suggestions that will hopefully help.  The goal is for this information to help you to deal with this situation, better choose your words, and ask questions about grief that are more heartfelt to show you genuinely care.

Communicating with Those Grieving

In general, this aforementioned communication is not a bad thing, but rather similar to a handshake.  This gives us a way to connect easily with the other person in accepted fashion before we begin the real conversation that brought us together.  However, when dealing with people who are coping with loss, grieving or in transition, this level of communication can sometimes send the wrong message.  They know that when they hear “How are you?” the inquirer doesn’t really want to know the answer.   It doesn’t feel to them like standard practice;  it feels like they must create an avoidance of the difficult reality of their lives.

Of course, if you ask “How are you?” compassionately, look them in the eyes, perhaps put a hand on their shoulder, and convey that you really do care, that is far better than choosing to remain silent, or saying nothing at all.

Questions to Ask a Grieving Loved One

However, there are other ways where you can be even more comforting by asking an inviting, open-ended question that allows the person to share as much or as little as they choose.

Questions about grief to consider when speaking with a grieving loved one:

1.    What kind of a day has this been for you?
2.    I cannot imagine being in your situation.  Would you like to tell me what this has been like for you?
3.    In what ways are you feeling differently now, as compared to the past?
4.    What would you like people to know about your feelings right now?
5.    Who has been the most supportive to you, and in what ways were they helpful?

6.    In what ways has this been harder than you thought it was going to be?

Also Consider This:

“I’ve often assumed that when people ask me how I am, it’s a standard greeting and they don’t really want to know the answer.  I want to assure you that I care, I do want to know, and I will always listen to the truth, even when it’s hard.”

In all of your contacts and questions about grief with grieving loved one, rise above the standard.  Offer genuine support and to let them know they are not just another person.  Try to make sure they know that you understand that today is not just another day.  If you can do that, you will help them heal and, at the same time, begin building a trust and relationship that can make a meaningful difference…that could possibly last a lifetime.

Additional Information About Grief and Loss:

Grief Message Boards
Loss of a Child
Loss of a Parent
Loss of a Pet
Loss of a Sibling
Loss of a Spouse