A Grief Support System Checklist

Grief experts often ask the bereaved to check their support system. What is it? How do you put a support system together? My husband has undergone three emergency surgeries and been in intensive care for eight days. After his first surgery I started contacting people in my support system. This turned out to be a good decision, one that made me feel better.

Charles Seashore describes the purposes and parts of a support system in his article, “Developing and Using Personal Support System,” published on the National Training Laboratories (NTL) website. According to Seashore, a support system is a resource pool, sources of help to use when necessary, and leaves you stronger. A support system doesn’t have to be reciprocal and you don’t need to contact all the people on it.

“Keeping one’s support system up-to-date and relevant to one’s goals requires on-going assessment of the kinds of people who are currently available,” he explains.

I thought my support system was current, but my husband’s emergency surgeries revealed several gaps. For example, many of the people on my list are about my age, which means they are dealing with similar issues, and need support themselves. If you are grieving now you need support from caring people and groups. This list will help you create and update your grief support system.

  • My grief support system is current. Yes ____ No ____
  • It includes family members, friends, work colleagues, and spiritual/religious support. Yes ____ No ____
  • There are people of varying ages in my support system. Yes ____ No ____
  • All of the people in my support system are competent. Yes ____ No ____
  • Many of these people are role models. Yes ____ No ____
  • I have similar interests to the people in my support system. Yes ____ No ____
  • The people in my support system have skills and contacts that enable them to act quickly. Yes ____ No ____
  • Some of the people in my support system live close by. Yes ____ No ____
  • Different community groups are represented in my support system. Yes ____ No ____
  • I have explored back-up resources for my support system. Yes ____ No ____
  • Support groups are part of my support system. Yes ____ No ____
  • I have reviewed my support system in the last six months. Yes ____ No ____
  • Your grief support system needs revamping if you answered “no” often. Update your support system today and turn to it for comfort when necessary.

by Harriet Hodgson