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Recommendations for a Grieving Family System

by Thomas R. Egnew, Ed. D., ACSW

1. Recognize the hurt: identify, predict, and accept the validity
of the unique issues and problems the family faces:
Be gentle with each other.

2. Be realistic about expectations as parents:
We cannot protect our children from everything.

3. Identify problem areas and communicate about them in light
of grief process:
Never underestimate the impact of grief on the family.

4. Discuss differences in grieving styles and do not judge
the responses of other family members:
Do not expect the grief of other family members to be like yours.

5. Men, open up to your pain/grief, learn to cry and express anger/stress appropriately: women, learn to express your anger appropriately:
Learn to share your grief with one another constructively.

6. Assist children to grieve by allowing expression of feelings, giving factual explanations, and being careful of expectations:
Don’t expect children to act or understand like adults.

7. Pace yourself with the recognition that grief resolution
will take a long time and will require reworking throughout life:
Recognize and prepare for anniversary reactions.

8. Establish personal and family methods of recognizing important
times relative to the deceased:
Create family grief rituals.

9. Give yourself and family members permission to set aside
grief and enjoy life:
Have fun together.

10. Be realistic regarding the resolution of grief:
Accept that things will never be the same and turn off the “if onlys”.

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