Support from relatives and friends

To supporters and professionals

Support from relatives and friends

Support from family, relatives and friends is one of the most important forms of support. That is because they are the people who know the suffering of the family and how much they care about their loved ones who are not here right now.


You may not know what to say to that family. You may also feel sad when you see a sad face or a suffering figure, so you may want to avoid them as much as possible. But in many cases, it is better to tell the person that “I am sad and very sorry” rather than to say nothing or avoid the topic at all.


You can’t take away their grief, but you can support them by listening to them when they want to talk and helping them with their real needs.


Learn about “ambiguous loss” before you go into support. Then you may be more prepared to support those who are in pain.

Please take a look at the “What is ambiguous loss?” section.



A few ways to help

1.Just be there

It takes time for any person with an “ambiguous loss” to manage themselves. That period can be very painful. If you ask the person and they allow you to be with them, it is often helpful to just be there without saying anything.



For those who are in pain with ambiguous loss, talking to someone who listens to them is a big help. A free expression of emotions, such as sadness, anger, or bitterness, can help them relieve anguish.


Each person’s way of dealing with loss is different. They have the answer to how to come to terms with his or her grief. Especially in the case of “ambiguous loss,” it’s perfectly fine that the person deals with it in their own way. Respect the person’s thoughts and answers as they come up in the conversation, even if they are different from yours.


3.Respect those who are not now with family

The missing person is still an important member of the family. Celebrating their birthday or having the opportunity to get together for them could provide great support for the family. Through such support from those around them, the family can feel that “the person” and “they” themselves are being respected.


4.Other helpful support

The family may be mulling over and over again about what has happened. That’s normal in the process of coming to terms with such a situation.


Tell the family to take care of their own bodies. Tell them to eat well, get the rest they need, and see a doctor if they have any health concerns. If possible, take the time and discuss what you can do to help.