Helping people in grief means being an empathetic companion—someone who allows grievers to be experts of their own experiences, who bears witness without judging, who gently encourages the expression of thoughts and feelings. But if you approach the work with this understanding, guided by Dr. Wolfelt’s “companioning” philosophy, how you are when you spend time with the griever also has a tremendous influence on your capacity to help.
How do you develop a relationship with the griever? How do you show empathy (versus sympathy), respect, warmth, and genuineness? Could you improve your listening, paraphrasing, clarifying, perception checking, informing, or other essential helping skills?
Whether you are a professional counselor or a lay helper, whether you have years of experience or are new to the work, this guide will help you be the most effective grief companion you can be.