By Deb Kosmer
People say that grief is hard work, and it’s true. Trying to deal with the death of loved ones – day after day, week after week, month after month – is exhausting. The tears, anger, confusion, disbelief, guilt, and emptiness “drain” us, meaning that the littlest things can wear us out.

Counselors, including EAP practitioners, need to be very careful about what they say and tread softly with grieving employees. The grieving are not looking to a counselor for advice, but rather for validation of their feelings, and their right to those feelings. The following are somme key points:

* Grieving people are broken-hearted, not broke.
* They need to be comforted, not fixed.
* They need to be heard, not talked to.
* They need understanding, not unrealistic expectations.
* They need to be allowed the time they need, not hurried along.
* They need validation, not judgment.
* They need to be be able to tell their story as many times as it takes.
* They need to know it’s OK to cry – and not to cry.

Deb Kosmer, MSW, CSW, CT, is a bereavement support coordinator. (This article is a condensed version of an article that appeared in the June 2011 issue of Employee Assistance Report. For more information, visit and then the “EARN” link – and/or email for more information.