Death and Dying

10 Specific Suggestions for How to Help a Grieving Friend – by Howard Whitman

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This fabulous article really captures the essence of what those grieving need from those with whom they’re acquainted. It also helps those uncomfortable with the topic of death to understand that there are many ways to lighten the emotional load for the person who is grieving.

The 11th suggestion I would offer is this: If you’re with someone who has recently suffered a loss and you don’t know what to say; you feel any words you offer couldn’t possibly make a difference; offer a hug. Your sincere intentions will transfer to them and just might provide them with the assurance that you acknowledge their grief and want them to know that they are not alone. Thank you Howard Whitman for offering this article to us.

Kindness Blog

grief wallpaper

Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from Keys to Happiness, an anthology of articles published in 1954.

Most of us want to be helpful when grief strikes a friend, but often we don’t know how. We may end up doing nothing because we don’t know the right — and helpful — things to say and do. Because that was my own experience recently, I resolved to gather pointers which might be useful to others as well as myself.

Ministers, priests, and rabbis deal with such situations every day. I went to scores of them, of all faiths, in all parts of the country.

Here are some specific suggestions they made:

1. Don’t try to “buck them up.”

This surprised me when the Rev. Arthur E. Wilson of Providence, RI mentioned it. But the others concurred. It only makes your friend feel worse when you say, “Come now…

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Human nature: it’s under our control

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Yakima DSeveral years ago I took a class with the ominous sounding title, Death and Dying.  That was a topic with which I was very comfortable so I signed up for it and enjoyed it immensely.  There were many things offered relating to wisdom gained as we age and how best to live before we die, but the following advice was the best of all:


Cherokee wisdom – Two Wolves

An old Cherokee chief was teaching his grandson about life… “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy, “it is a terrible fight, and it is between two wolves.”

“One is EVIL: he is fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

“The other is GOOD: he is joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”

“This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too,” he added.

The grandson thought about it for a while and then asked, “Grandfather, which wolf will win?”

The old chief simply replied, “The one you feed.”

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