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Supporting Others After Road Trauma

Supporting someone who is grieving

It can be hard to know what to say or do to support someone you care about with a sudden loss from road trauma. You may feel helpless in the face of their grief and worried about their wellbeing.

Most people can cope with trauma, grief, and loss with the support of family and friends. This means it is important to contact the bereaved person as soon as possible after a death. Ways in which to contact them can be through a personal visit, via phone, text message or sending sympathy cards/flowers.

What helps:

  • Express condolences and show that you care (e.g. “I’m sorry for your loss”).
  • Just being there is one of the most supportive things you can do for someone who is grieving.
  • Acknowledge and validate the grieving person’s feelings.
  • Being a good listener through hearing the story as they process what has happened.
  • Talk about and share memories of the person who has died and use the deceased name (where culturally appropriate).
  • Offer practical support.
  • Understand that you cannot take away someone’s pain.
  • Recognise grief doesn’t have a timeline.
  • Encourage the grieving person to engage in self-care.
  • Look after yourself.

What to avoid:

  • Avoid using clichés (eg: “they’re in a better place now”, “it was meant to be”).
  • Avoid saying “I know how you feel”. You can encourage the person to express their feelings but don’t assume that you know how they feel.
  • Avoid referring to the person who has died, impersonally as “the deceased”. Use their name or relationship (e.g. “your son” etc).
  • Avoid expressing your judgements or criticisms, or offering unwanted advice about how they should be grieving (e.g. “You should go out more”, “you should be over it by now”, or “Your crying is going to upset the kids”).
  • Avoid interrupting, offering examples from your own life or making comparisons (e.g. “At least they didn’t suffer very long”, “it’s worse when you lose a child…”, “When my cat died…”)
  • Avoid trying to find something positive in the death. If the bereaved person identifies this themselves, validate their feelings but don’t try to make them feel better by offering up suggestions (e.g. “she’s so much better off”).
  • Don’t take over. If you are offering support, make suggestions but allow the person to make their own decisions.
  • Don’t avoid grieving people because you don’t know what to say or do.

Grief Resources

Grief Australia:

My Grief Assist:



Whats Your Grief?

Find out more

Injury Matters acknowledges and respects the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the custodians of the land on which we work, live and build our lives, families, and communities. We pay our respects to the First Nations People of this country, their cultures and Elders past, present and emerging.

Injury Matters strives to be culturally sensitive as we represent the Western Australian community in our imagery. Please be advised that our website or resources may contain images, videos, or voices of people who have since passed away.

If any material causes concern, please contact us on (08) 6166 7688.

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