Four Steps to Let Grieving Clients Know You Understand Them

02.21.22 07:53 PM Comment(s) By Amy

With aging clients and the impact of COVID, you’ve likely seen increased numbers of deaths among your clients and families. It’s important to know what your grieving clients are experiencing, and we can look to a survey of 8000 grieving people to better understand:

On a scale of 1-10, almost two-thirds of participants rated their grief symptoms through the first six months as an 8 or higher. They described overwhelming sadness, yearning, nostalgia, and trouble concentrating or sleeping. More than half experienced loneliness. And these effects last. More and one-quarter said that they never got back to feeling like themselves, and another quarter said it took one to two years. 

One of the deepest desires grievers expressed is to have their grief acknowledged and validated, not minimized or judged. They don’t want “routine sympathy” or the same platitudes that everyone says. They do want hugs, a receptive ear and shoulder, practical help, silent handholding, regular phone calls, and people who honor the difficulty and enduring nature of the grief.

What does this mean for your relationship with grieving clients?
  1. Be there in ways that others aren’t. Call regularly simply to check in and ask what kind of a day they’re having. Ask good questions to invite their stories and be willing to listen. Send cards and small gifts, especially on important days like death anniversaries, birthdays, wedding anniversary, and holidays (including “minor” ones like Valentine’s Day).
  2. Never minimize their grief, suggest that they should be “over it” by now, or compare them to someone else. Instead, tell them that you understand that grief is complicated, long-lasting, and unique to each person. You can tell them “You’re not crazy, you’re just grieving.” Allow tears, reminding them they’re only sad because they lost a treasure.
  3. Create a branded list of area support groups and grief counselors. Tell clients it can help alleviate loneliness to be with others who have been there, and especially helpful to talk to someone who doesn’t have the “baggage” of friends and family who are grieving the same loss. Remind them that you give the list to all your grieving clients, and many share it with family members who could use the resources too. It’s not a sign of weakness to access resources; it’s a positive decision to work on healing.
  4. Be patient with them as they work their way through grief. Although some may be ready to make decisions much sooner than others, tell each one you’ll ensure that time-restricted things get done without anything falling through the cracks, so they can relax. Tell them you’re happy to evaluate any suggestions others bring them about their money, and you’ll keep checking in on their readiness to take actions. Then follow their lead without judgment.

These are just a few things you can do. There’s so much more, yet the key principle is to support grieving clients in ways that assure them of your deep knowledge, sincere care, and practical help. Set yourself apart and build clients for life! 


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