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Grief and Loss Resources

We have provided some resources and information about grief and loss and how to support those who may be experiencing these emotions. If you would like to contact a school counselor immediately please click here.

What to Say: Appropriate Statements and Potentially Unhelpful Statements

When considering what to say, the goal of the communication should be kept in focus: to assist those who are grieving in expressing their feelings and reactions in a safe and supportive environment without trying to alter those feelings.

Appropriate Statements:

    • “I’m so sorry to hear about your brother’s death. Is there something that I can do that will be helpful?”
    • “I am so sad to hear about your friend’s death; I can only imagine what you may be going through.”
    • “I heard that your cousin died last week. I understand that it may be difficult to concentrate or learn as well when you are grieving; I would like you to let me know if you find yourself having any difficulty with your school work so that we can figure out together how to make it easier for you during this difficult time.”
    • “I’m so sorry that your teacher died. Please know that I am here whenever you want to talk or just wish to be with someone.”
    • "I’m so sorry to hear about your loss."
    • "I can’t imagine what you are going through; it must be unbearable."
    • "Sit down and tell me all about it."
    • "I don’t know what to say, but I’ll be glad to listen."
    • "How are you really feeling?"
    • "What can I do to help?"

Potentially unhelpful approaches and Corresponding Statements:

Emphasizing a positive perspective or trying to cheer people up:

    • “At least he had a good life before he died.”
    • “I’m sure you will feel better soon.”

Encouraging them to be strong or hide their feelings:

    • “You don’t want to upset the other students or have them see you cry.”

Telling them you know how they are feeling or ought to be feeling

    • “I know exactly what you are going through.”
    • “You must be angry.”

Instead, demonstrate your own feelings and express sympathy.

Competing for sympathy:

    • “Both of my parents died when I was your age.”


    • Snap out of it
    • It wasn’t meant to be
    • You must be strong
    • She lived a good life
    • You must move on
    • God will never give you more than you can handle
    • I understand
    • Be thankful you have other children
    • It’s over with. Let’s not deal with it
    • Get a hold of yourself
    • Keep a stiff upper lip
    • Pull yourself together
    • Be strong for the children
    • Get back on the horse again
    • It was God’s will
    • You can always have other children
    • You’re young
    • Maybe God is trying to teach you a lesson
    • Others have it worse than you
    • What did you do wrong?
    • He wouldn’t have been healthy
    • It is just nature’s way of dealing with a problem

Concrete Ways to Help a Grieving Family

Immediate needs

    • Send a card with a list of concrete things that you are able to help with
    • Invitations to coffee, dinner, a walk, a visit or whatever
    • Cards and letters with pictures or memories of their loved one
    • Advice to accept any and all offers of help
    • Information about and attending a grief Support Group (including times, place)
    • A place for relatives to stay
    • Transportation to/from the airport for relatives
    • Assistance in planning and organizing the funeral/memorial service
    • Non-perishable food items
    • List making and record keeping so thank you notes can be sent
    • Grocery store and restaurant gift cards
    • Your physical presence
    • Transportation to doctor’s appointments, grocery store, etc.. It is difficult to drive in the first couple of days and weeks
    • Assistance with errands, shopping, housecleaning, etc.
    • Childcare so they can rest without having to worry about the needs and safety of their surviving child or children
    • Addressing and stamping envelopes for thank you notes
    • Money (death and grief can be very expensive)

Needs down the road

    • Continue to call and acknowledge the loss in the conversation
    • Continue to send notes (preferably in the mail)
    • Mention by name the one who died
    • Remember holidays and birthdays, death days
    • Sit with them at church
    • Go walking with them or join an exercise group together
    • Invite them out for lunch or dinner…or take dinner to them and eat at their home


Children's Books:

With grief, children’s books are meant for the adults to read and can often be the most helpful of all.

    • Badger’s Parting Gifts by Susan Varley is a beautiful story of loss and how memories can help us heal.

Other recommendations are:

    • Bear’s Last Journey by Udo Weigelt,
    • Tear Soup by Pat Schwierbert,
    • The Fall of Freddy the Leaf  by Leo Buscaglia.

For short, one-page support and meditations:

    • When a Friend Dies: A Book for Teens About Healing and Grieving by Marilyn E. Grootman,
    • Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations for Working Through Grief by Martha Whitmore Hickman
    • A Time to Grieve: Meditations for Healing After the Death of a Loved One by Carol Stadacher.

Christian Resources:

    • Where is God When it Hurts? Philip Yancy
    • Experiencing Grief Norman Wright
    • A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss Gerald (Jerry) Sittser
    • A Grace Revealed: How God Redeems the Story of Your Life Gerald (Jerry) Sittser
    • Through a Season of Grief: Devotions for Your Journey from Mourning to Joy Kathy Leonard
    • Holding On to Hope: A Pathway through Suffering to the Heart of God Nancy Guthrie
    • Streams in the Desert L.B. Cowman
    • Suffering is Never for Nothing Elisabeth Elliot
    • Getting to the Other Side of Grief: Overcoming the Loss of a Spouse Robert C. De Vries
    • Surprised by Suffering: The Role of Pain and Death in the Christian Life R.C. Sproul
    • A Grief Observed CS Lewis
    • The Problem of Pain CS Lewis
    • A Grief Sanctified: Through Sorrow to Eternal Hope J.I Packer
    • Hearing Jesus Speak Into Your Sorrow Nancy Guthrie
    • Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts Jerry Bridges

Symptoms of Grief

Physical Symptoms

    • Hyperactive or under active
    • Feelings of unreality
    • Physical distress such as chest pains, abdominal pains, headaches, nausea, the area near your heart can hurt, as if it were broken (breathing difficulties)
    • Change in appetite
    • Weight change
    • Fatigue
    • Sleeping problems
    • Restlessness
    • Crying and sighing
    • Feelings of emptiness
    • Shortness of breath
    • Tightness in the throat
    • Dry mouth and skin (possibly caused by dehydration from crying – drink lots of water)
    • Frequent thoughts about the one who died
    • Extreme tiredness
    • Difficulty in maintaining concentration; forgetfulness
    • Increased sensitivity to loud noises
    • Feeling confused 

Emotional Symptoms

    • Shock and numbness (a normal way to react to the news of a death) 
    • Guilt (“if only’s” are natural and need to be expressed) 
    • Sadness
    • Anger (often we’re taught not to feel angry, but anger is a normal feeling and needs to be accepted and expressed – in a non-destructive way) 
    • Fear
    • Relief
    • Irritability
    • Loneliness
    • Longing
    • Anxiety
    • Depression (at times, loneliness and lack of motivation may occur for you – don’t worry, at some point the motivation will return) 
    • Loss of meaning in life (Hang on! The meaning will return, though your life and how you see it may be different)
    • Apathy
    • Vulnerability
    • Abandonment
    • Things seem unreal
    • You may feel distant from others, and it may seem as if no one really cares about you or understands what it’s like
    • Crying is healthy and important in healing (Keeping from crying might cause health problems later)
    • Nature gave us tears to ease the stress of life
    • Men, especially, can have difficulty crying, because they have been taught not to cry (They do, and it’s normal and healthy) 

Social Symptoms

    • Overly sensitive
    • Dependent
    • Withdrawn
    • Avoid others
    • Lack of initiative
    • Lack of interest 

Behavioral Symptoms

    • Forgetfulness
    • Searching for the deceased
    • Slowed thinking
    • Dreams of the deceased
    • Sense the loved one’s presence
    • Wandering aimlessly
    • Trying not to talk about loss in order to help others feel comfortable around them
    • Needing to retell the story of the loved one’s death 

Help through Grief

    • Be patient with yourself. Do not compare yourself to others. Go through mourning at your own pace
    • Admit you are hurting and go with the pain
    • Apply cold or heat to your body, whichever feels best
    • Ask for and accept help
    • Talk to others
    • Face the loss
    • Stop asking “Why?” and ask “What will I do now?”
    • Recognize that a bad day does not mean that all is lost
    • Rest
    • Exercise
    • Keep to a routine
    • Introduce pleasant changes into your life
    • Know that you will survive
    • Take care of something alive, such as a plant or a pet
    • Schedule activities to help yourself get through weekends and holidays
    • Find someone who needs your help
    • Accept your feelings as part of the normal grief reaction
    • Postpone major decisions whenever possible
    • Do something you enjoy doing
    • Write in a journal
    • Be around people
    • Schedule time alone
    • Do not overdo
    • Eat regularly
    • Avoid use of drugs and alcohol – they usually stop or delay grief (which means you’ll need to face the feelings about the death later on)
    • Avoid hasty decisions about the belongings of the deceased
    • Put off any major decisions (i.e.: moving, financial investments, etc.)
    • Even though your patience may wear thin, try letting others know what you need and how to help you (giving them this hand-out may help them to understand you better)
    • Gather strength from people who won’t judge or advise you and are available for emotional support.
Stress Management
    • Journal thoughts and feelings
    • Concentrated breathing and meditation
    • Exercise/ Yoga
    • Healthy lifestyle, good nutrition and water intake
    • Limit Screen time
    • Regular sleeping and waking hours
    • Keep a routine
    • Talk and share with a trusted confidant
    • Help others
    • Get outside in nature
    • Positive Self-Talk
    • Listen to Music
    • Dance
    • Play with your pet
    • Engage in your favorite hobby
    • Work in the garden
    • Take a bath
    • Read a book
    • Create Art
    • Play a Musical Instrument

Outside Resources

(*Disclaimer- NCHS does not endorse any outside resource and is not liable for the use/ results of any resource*)

 Lacey Christian Counseling

418 Carpenter Road South East, Suite 104
Lacey, WA 98503

(253) 200-5787


Cascade Counseling

2100 Caton Way SW
Olympia, WA 98502

(360) 866-7406


Balanced Perspectives Counseling Services

Mottman Plaza
2584 RW Johnson Blvd. SW
Suite 101
Tumwater WA 98512


Providence Grief Support Services

The Centering Corporation “Your Grief Resource Center”

The Dougy Center, The National Center for Grieving Children & Families

Grief Helps

Open to Hope

Grief and Loss Support

If you are struggling with grief or loss please feel free to reach out to our school counselor for support. Fill out the form below and our school counselor will be in touch soon.