Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Brushing up on 'The Mourner's Bill of Rights'

Dear Readers,

Author photo
I recently received mail from Chaplain Diane of the hospital where I volunteer as a Compassionate Companion. I wrote about hospice vigiling in my post, Silent Night, Holy Night: Sacred Dying is another reason to write condolence. Along with the flyer for a day of reflection--with a keynote discussion on "The Faces of God," was a business card size enclosure that intrigued me.

Titled, THE MOURNER'S BILL OF RIGHTS, it was the work of Alan D. Wolfelt, PhD. Dr. Wolfelt is a passionate advocate for gentleness toward the bereaved. I have taken to heart many of his insights and proddings which appear occasionally in funeral industry journals. He asked funeral staff to cease referring to clients as 'the decedent', 'the body' or 'the remains.' Use the person's name--Mr. Jones or Ms. Clark, and certainly remember that the person in your care is "a loved one."

Dr. Alan Wolfelt
Dr. Wolfelt suggests that mourners have rights, and while they may be upheld largely by self-care, let us all consider these points as reminders for sensitive and non-judgemental caring.


  1. You have the right to experience your own unique grief.
  2. You have the right to talk about your grief.
  3. You have the right to feel a multitude of emotions.
  4. You have the right to be tolerant of your physical and emotional limits.
  5. You have the right to experience "griefbursts."
  6. You have the right to make use of ritual.
  7. You have the right to embrace your spirituality.
  8. You have the right to search for meaning.
  9. You have the right to treasure your memories.
  10. You have the right to move toward your grief and heal.
This card might be useful as a simple gesture of support to a friend. It is available through http://www.centerforloss.com/.

Thank you for caring!

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