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Chapter Twelve:
Getting Organized: A Guide to the Shiva

Joseph's father passed away suddenly after suffering a stroke. Within a few minutes after receiving the news, Joseph sat down with his wife and a few friends and began to give instructions regarding who was to do what and when, "Don't forget to call my aunt in Chicago; make sure..." Many of us have seen this reaction, which is actually one way of dealing with pain — by simply not dealing with it. By giving instructions and making arrangements and in general keeping busy, Joseph was able to tell his emotions, I don't have any time for you right now, so bug off." He refused to show any emotion until he saw the casket being lowered into the grave. At that point he allowed himself to begin to mourn.

Although the actual phone calls and preparations were organized by friends, Joseph insisted on making the initial decisions and arrangements. In other cases, the mourner is so broken that he foregoes any decision-making and closes himself off, "You take care of it."

What Needs to be Done?

All too often today, shiva is no longer the small, intimate gathering of family and close friends where everyone had some connection to the deceased. This is especially true after a disaster or terror attack. The general public often demonstrates an overwhelming need to take part in the grieving process, to comfort people who were total strangers a day ago. In such cases, the shiva becomes a quasi-public event. In order for this not to become physically and emotionally draining for the mourners, a logistical and support system needs to be developed. While this chapter is intended primarily for such situations, most of the ideas are applicable for "ordinary" shiva situations as well.

There is an old adage that the best response to everyone else losing their heads is to keep yours. The easiest way to keep from being overwhelmed by the many demands of a shiva — most of which must be dealt with immediately and with little or no warning — is to make contingency plans ahead of time, listing what has to be done in the event of.... It is much easier to do what needs to be done if you have a prepared list ready.

There is an example of such a list in the Appendix. It is to be used as a guide line and to be added to as you see fit. If you live in a small community you may even decide to gather a few people together and use your collective experience to make your own list.

Many haredi (ultra-Orthodox) communities have organized crisis support groups that immediately jump into action upon learning of a death. They may or may not be members of the helping professions, but they know what has to be done and how to do it — and they can be relied upon. Depending on the needs and wishes of the family, they can play either a supplementary or a more dominant role.

In cases of terror attacks or other disasters, a team from the local council or the municipality (which should include a social worker) will arrive fairly quickly to help with the arrangements.

Recruiting A Support Team

There are a number of important actions that need to be done immediately upon learning of a death. As a first step the mourners should be asked whether anyone has taken responsibility for organizing the arrangements connected with the funeral and shiva. If not, and if they acquiesce, volunteers should be recruited for this task. If they have already requested someone, then that individual should be included in all decisions and made to feel part of the process. It just may be that the individual will be more than happy to delegate some or most of the work to you but remember it is their Shiva and we with all of our good will we there in the service of the family and not visa versa.

No one can do everything, so the first task is to organize a team to deal with these matters, as well as with the long-term needs of the bereaved.

On the face of it, the more people there are, the easier the burden is on each individual. On the other hand, the more people involved, the more complicated things become and the more important it is to be organized. One of the most important tasks is to immediately ensure that someone is with the family at all times. Usually this is a close relative or friend. Additional people should be assigned to various tasks according to the number of people available and the urgency of the task.

There are many facets to support. It can be practical or emotional or a combination of both. Each of us has certain strengths, which can be of use. Whether it is manning a phone, organizing meals, or just sitting with children, each of us has our place.

Identifying the Remains

Before a funeral the Chevra Kadisha (Burial Society) will ask someone to positively identify the body so as to insure that the right person is being buried. This is usually done with tact and respect and the minimum amount of the body is exposed. In the event of a car accident, murder or terror attack, where they body may be disfigured one of the first issues that, sadly, often has to be dealt with is identifying the remains. The question that comes up when there is something to identify, is: should the family be encouraged to make the identification or should they let a family friend do it?

There are few things more terrifying than the prospect of having to identify the body of a loved one. Two conflicting factors have to be taken into account when making this decision: the effect of the trauma of visiting a morgue and seeing the remains of someone you loved vs. the need for "closure" or the opportunity to say a final good bye.

In most cases the first factor outweighs the second. Why? Won't the visit be so traumatic that the bereaved will be plagued with nightmares? Not necessarily. Remember, today's morgues, whether in a hospital or in a central location such as Abu Kabir in Israel, are a far cry from what you may have seen in the movies. These morgues are clean, well lit, and modern. There is usually a special room for viewing the body. If the death was caused by a disaster, there are almost always social workers and other professionals on hand to gently guide family members though the procedure.

In a later chapter, we will discuss sudden death vs. terminal illness. One particularly painful aspect of sudden death is that there is no possibility of saying good-bye. "If only I could have had one moment just to tell him..." is often heard. But that moment never was — and now it can never be. Having the possibility to spend a few minutes with the remains of a loved one provides the opportunity to say a personal goodbye, to begin to come to grips with the harsh reality.

However, not everyone wants to see the remains. One distraught father flatly refused to identify his son's body. He told the social worker, "I want to remember him the way he was, not how he is now."

Who should go?

If possible, any "adult" member of the family who wants to do so should go. Each one needs a few moments alone with the deceased. Furthermore, the mutual support provided by individual family members is invaluable for getting through such a traumatic event.

Is there any time NOT to go to view a body?

The cardinal rule is to respect the wishes of the grieving family. We can encourage and we can suggest but we should never push or make decisions instead of the family.

I also would not recommend viewing the body if there is little left to identify or if one of the mourners suffers from a physical or psychological condition that could be aggravated by the experience.

Handling the Technical Side

Removing the burden of the technical arrangements from the shoulders of the family allows them to concentrate on themselves and to begin the mourning process.

This does not mean that people should do everything for the family. Most families will resent it if they are "out of the loop" when it comes to decision-making. It does mean that the family should have the option of choosing what they wish to be involved in and what they want others to do, including making final decisions after being presented with specific alternatives. In some cases they may need help in weighing pros and cons over issues such as postponing the funeral, or asking certain people to speak. We can help them by presenting a clearer picture, together with the ramifications of each decision.

It's a good idea, when possible, for the team meet every evening. This way they can discuss the experiences of the day and plan the next day, arranging food and supplies as well as deciding what each volunteer will do.

Planning the Funeral

The first task is to notify family and friends. The mourners will probably wish to be the ones to break the news to close family and friends. Quiet support without intrusion can be helpful at this point. You can help by dialing the phone, standing by their side, and just being there.

Who should be called? Check with several family members to make sure that Cousin Fanny hasn't been forgotten in the confusion. If the family wants someone else to make some of the calls, write down the names of all the people they wants called and agree on the official message.

Usually someone in the community will handle the details of the funeral itself, including the religious aspects. It could be the local rabbi or a friend of the family — anyone, as long as he has the full trust of the family.

The family will need to be told what to expect, what will happen, and when. Probably the local rabbi or a friend who has gone through the same experience will explain the procedure. The family may wish to know the laws that govern mourning even if they are not Orthodox. The funeral may have to be delayed because of difficulties in making a formal identification of the body, legal or criminal factors, or because there are family members who have to come from far away. There may also be decisions to make such as: which burial society to use, where the body is to be buried, and where the family will sit shiva.

There are many religious issues connected to a funeral. These are often highly charged emotionally. The pros and cons should be presented, preferably with the guidance of a rabbi or a halachic authority. The final decision should rest with the family.

As with most other aspects of our lives, there is bureaucracy connected with funerals (the process of registering the death, etc.). If the death was due to a terror attack then a social worker will usually take care of all these arrangements.

Don't forget the practical aspects of the funeral:

  • Make sure each family member, especially children and adolescents, has a support person with him at all times, even in the car, if possible.

  • It must be decided in which car the family is going, and if they cannot all fit into one car, who is going with whom.

  • Don't forget to bring water in the summer and a small folding chair, if there is a relative who needs it.

In the case of a terror attack, there will be many people with their own agendas who will be more than happy to offer advice. Politicians and camera crews will probably want to be part of the funeral.

The role of the media, especially television, must be determined in advance. Keep in mind that the media can be very abusive if it is uncontrolled. Reporters will usually respect the family's wishes if they make it clear they don't want them at the funeral or the shiva. One and only one person should be the liaison with the media.

The family should decide if they wish to allow politicians to speak. If it is decided to allow them, then it is also their right to stipulate certain conditions.

The Memory Book

What will be left in the years to come are the memories. For most families, that means family albums that record family trips or celebrations. But these may only represent a small fraction of that person's life. Most people's days are spent with colleagues at work; a child's day is spent in the company of his friends or classmates. Parents see only one side of their children

One of the beautiful aspects of the shiva is the gathering of small stories, and the learning about previously unknown aspects of the loved one's behavior and life. This information can best be preserved by memory books. There can be several memory books. If they are for a child, there can be one just for his friends, which can be filled with stories or pictures. There can even be one for each surviving sibling, which can be used by their friends to help comfort them. If the siblings are young, then a teacher can help. It should be one person's responsibility to make sure that the books are bought and that instructions are provided before they are placed in strategic areas near the entrance to the room, together with pens.

If the family has email, someone should monitor it for both personal email, and for condolence letters which should be printed for the family. Reading such condolences may be too painful for some mourners but comforting to others. Just make them aware that the letters exist and are available if they want to read them. Make a basket or box for all condolence mail, telegrams, emails, etc.

Dealing with the Phone

The funeral preparations and the shiva can be a communications nightmare. The house is filled with people all trying to be helpful, Can you get the phone?" "Who was it?" "Did anyone call?" Most of this can be avoided if from the beginning, one person is appointed to be in charge of the phone. If possible, keep one phone line free to allow people to call in.

Someone should be appointed (with the consent of the bereaved) to answer the phones and relay messages to the family.

Chain calls work great. If information has to be passed on to many people, simply split up the calls and have "Captains of tens and captains of hundreds." You get the idea.

A bulletin board made of oak tag and stickums serves really well for messages, if there are many people visiting from out of town (or out of the country). If Aunt Doris calls with a message for Barbara, you don't have to know who they are — just post the message.

Liaison with Relatives

Are relatives coming in from out of town? One important task is to find out who is flying in and arrange for someone to meet them at the airport. Make sure that a place is arranged for them to rest, shower, sleep, etc.

Liaison with the Media

Although most of us lead our lives far from the press, there is always interest (often intrusive) when it comes to a terror attack. The presence of photographers, cameramen, and reporters can and will add extra tension to the funeral.

The family should be asked for a photo of the victim to give to the press.

On the day of the funeral and during the shiva there may be requests for interviews. One person should be appointed as the liaison between the family and the media. A request to interview children, should be granted only under the following conditions:

  • First and foremost, the parents must agree to their child being interviewed.

  • An agreed-upon representative of the family should be present at the interview.

  • The representative should insist on the right of vetoing any question he believes is misleading or provocative.

  • Nothing must upset the child any more than he is already.

  • It must be made clear to the media that if they violate any of the terms, the interview will be terminated at once.

I have found that in an interview with children, the best approach is to find something in common with the reporter. If he has a family, take him aside and explain that the child has gone through a terrible experience and that he should imagine this is his own child.

Food and Household Chores

Someone should be at the house when the family returns from the funeral to serve them the first meal and get them ready for the shiva.


Our sages were in tune with the needs of the mourning family when they suggested that a simple meal of hard-boiled eggs and bread be served to the family after the funeral.

Usually the family will show little interest in eating during the shiva and will not have the emotional strength to care what they eat. Give them simple choices, nothing elaborate, Would you like chicken or pasta tonight?" Relay this to the people preparing the meals. Serve them nourishing foods that don't require chewing, like carrot juice, soup, scrambled eggs, or cut-up fruit.

Especially in cases of sudden death, family members are often literally unable to eat. Do not try to force them, but it is of utmost importance that they drink. Make sure that they have a glass of water, tea, or another beverage nearby at all times.

A household of six can become a hotel with dozens of guest, with meals being served all day long. Almost immediately people will begin to bring over food. In order to survive the week, it is necessary to DELEGATE. Appoint shifts for people to be in the kitchen to oversee the preparation and serving of food. One person should be in charge of organizing who is bringing meals and when (post a schedule). A list of needed supplies should be made and someone delegated to do the shopping. The culinary likes and dislikes of the family should be ascertained. Place a chart in a central place (on the refrigerator) which can be updated on what is happening on that day and what needs to be bought or organized for the next day.

A table should be set out with food and drinks for the visitors.

The supporters will be spending many hours a day at the shiva house. They also need to eat, even if they feel a bit uncomfortable. One way of encouraging the supporter to eat is to suggest that it would be helpful for the children or visiting family members if he eats together with them.

Sometimes the most basic of chores can be overlooked. A friend of mine was suddenly faced with the responsibility of taking care of a neighbor's shiva house. She had never done this before and asked a good friend who was also a rabbi what she should do. "Make sure there is enough toilet paper in the bathroom and that it stays clean, as there will be a lot of people and the bathroom will get a lot of use," he told her.

It is highly advisable for someone to be assigned to clean up in the evening after most visitors have left. Starting to tidy up is also a good way to hint that it is after hours.

Today everyone uses paper plates and plastic tablecloths, which makes life a bit easier, but these also need to be thrown away. Take the garbage out regularly!


Schedule for the Shiva

Many articles have been written about the benefits of sitting shiva and I will deal with some of them in chapter five. What is important logistically is to decide whether it will be open or if there will be set hours for visitors. It may be advisable to take a hours break twice a day when the family can be by themselves and rest. In such a case, a large notice with visiting hours and times of prayer should be posted on the door. This information should also be made available to the person manning the telephone.

Someone must direct traffic and politely let people know when the family wants to call it a day. The family may not feel comfortable doing so themselves.

Chairs, etc.

Most people borrow prayer books from a local synagogue for the shiva week. Some synagogues lend out folding chairs, sometimes for a small fee. Often there is a local "Free Loan Society" (gemach) that lends out chairs in return for a refundable deposit.


Someone from the local synagogue should be appointed as a liaison to ensure that there is a minyan at the shiva house for the three daily prayers, if that is the family's wishes. Usually the synagogue will also provide prayer books, psalm books (Tehillim) and a Torah scroll.

Support People

I use the term "support people" for those volunteers whose role is specifically to provide emotional support for the grieving family members. To recruit emotional support people, a list should be drawn up of those who are closest to the family — preferably more than one person for each family member — and confirm it (if possible) with the mourners. The list should also include friends of the children who should simply be asked whom they want to stay with them. They'll probably name a few of their closest friends and classmates.

Support people play a very important part in the healing process. It is essential to point out to them the importance of the work they are doing and to ease their anxieties. This is especially true for children who are supporting their friends. They will probably feel nervous and a bit awed by the task before them. Helping them understand their role and what to expect will enable them to be much more effective.

All supporters should be forewarned of behavior that may be confusing (such as mood swings). Ideally, this should be done by a professional (such as a social worker or psychologist). Someone who has had practical experience with such situations can also be helpful. In any case, it's a good idea to have a professional available who can serve as a consultant if situations arise that make the support people feel uncertain or uncomfortable.

The Role of the Supporter

Being an emotional supporter is both draining and rewarding and we all come into it burdened or strengthened by past experiences of our own. Some of us may still be working through our own unresolved grief for a loved one. Others may have a desperate fear of death. We try to put our "baggage" aside, but don't always succeed. It is important for us to keep an eye on each other even when we are helping the bereaved.

As a supporter you should understand that you do not have to be "strong". A young boy once asked me, "But if I cry, won't that make him sadder?" No. If you feel the need to cry, do so. It will show the mourner the depth of your feelings and allow him to join you. However, if you feel that you cannot regain control, it would be best if you left the room for a little while. In one instance I found that a family friend was so distraught that she needed more care than the family. In that case she was taken home by a close friend who stayed with her for the evening. By the next day she was calmer and ready to begin to help the family.

Unfortunately, when there are a lot of agencies and professionals involved, friends usually take a back seat and feel uncomfortable asking questions. What you have to remember is that you probably know the family better then the professional, who presumably just met them a few hours before. You are the one who would know who needs special attention (perhaps an elderly relative or a sibling), not the professional, so it is important that you advise the professional of the situation so that he can provide the best service in the time available

The job of a supporter is to be a friend. This is experienced not just verbally, but often physically as well. Remember that touch is important, that just holding a hand or rubbing a back may give comfort — even if the mourner doesn't say anything or respond. The fact that you are there is important. I remember one case where I sat for 45 minutes with someone who didn't even acknowledge my presence. A month later, she told me how much she appreciated my just being there, and how comforting it had been not to be alone. She explained that she hadn't even had the strength to talk at that point. Her mind's raging against the death of her loved one had absorbed all her strength.

Waves of Grief

Supporters (especially children who are supporting their peers) must understand that it is very common for the bereaved to have mood swings. Even though a person is hurting, he may all of a sudden make jokes and begin to laugh.

This is because no one can mourn all the time, even when sitting shiva. Feelings of pain and loss ebb and flow because most people have a defense mechanism that protects them from an overload of grief by cutting off the pain for a while, just as a circuit breaker protects against an electrical overload by cutting off the flow of electricity.

Miri, whose young son was killed by a suicide bomber, compared the waves of grief, anger, and pain she experienced after her son died to the labor pains she felt giving birth to him. The waves of pain would roll over her, engulf her, and then ebb away giving her a few minutes of respite before starting again.

Then there are those adults who do not seem affected by their loss — on the surface. In some cases, joking and laughter may be a way of blocking out pain. Cognitively, these people may realize the loss they have suffered, but they are still trying not to allow the pain genie out of the bottle. This reaction brings to mind the Simon and Garfunkel song of the late 1960s, "I am a rock, I am an island. And a rock feels no pain and an island never cries." It is difficult to offer comfort to an island.

Although there is a general pattern to the process of mourning — which I deal with in chapter three — there are also vast individual variations. In the case of the loss of a child, each parent may react differently. One of them might deal with it by "falling to pieces" and use the support of those around him; the other, by involving himself in the technical arrangements for the shiva. By busying himself with technical matters, he avoids having to deal with his emotions. Controlling his external environment provides an anchor with which he tries to keep himself from being swept away by tides of uncertainty and emotion.

What is important to keep in mind is not how the mourners' behavior appears but what lies behind it. At one shiva a young woman came over to me with an incredulous, "Look at her? How can she make jokes when her father just died?" The fact that the bereaved girl was laughing at jokes did not mean that she was insensitive or that she didn't love her father. Rather, it meant that at this point she was not ready to begin the mourning process. The supporter should not judge. Instead, he should take his lead from the mourner. It may just be that her father loved to joke and this is a way for her to hold on to part of his essential character. In order to be able to gently bringing her back to the present, you may want to ask a leading question such as, "Did your father have a good sense of humor?"

It is not unusual for adolescents to respond to the mourning process with joking and irreverence; partly to cover up their emotions and partly to mask their insecurity in dealing with such a sensitive and difficult situation.

One young person asked me if her 12 year-old friend, Sharon (who had just lost her father) was normal. "Why?" I asked. "What is she doing that makes you think something is wrong?"

"She is reading comic books and making jokes as if nothing is wrong. What's worse, she hasn't shed a single tear. When we bring up her father's death she changes the subject."

This is a common reaction of adolescents. It is difficult for them to come to grips with the loss. In addition, the feelings of guilt that accompany any normal parent-child relationship are coupled with a dread of being different. However, while this may not be an uncommon reaction, it's not a healthy one. An adult support person should be aware of what is happening with the youngsters. Often a bit of intervention allows the natural mourning process to take place.

Upon entering Sharon's room, I found her sitting on the floor with some friends. I sat down next to her and asked them to form a circle and hold hands. Then I gently asked Sharon if she could share with us the best times she'd had with her father. In this quiet room, in the presence of her best friends, she finally told us about the father she missed, at first in a soft dry tone and later with a torrent of emotion.

Support and All it Entails


During the shiva most of the attention is usually focused on the adults. Small children can fall through the cracks. They do not understand why there are so many people in their home, why the TV isn't on, why everyone is so serious. They need to be supervised and kept occupied. Play times should be arranged with their friends (ideally at the friends' homes). It is fine for friends to come over as long as they don't cause too much turmoil in the house. If the mother has to worry about what her three year-old is doing all the time, she will not be able to concentrate on her grief.

Often a supporter can take children out for a walk to a local park, or do other age-appropriate activities with them. Stock a corner in the house with blank paper and crayons. Encouraging young children to draw (even without a professional present) and having them talk about their drawings is one way of giving the child both the attention he needs and an opportunity to communicate.

When older children have returned to school after the shiva, parent(s) are usually so involved in their own grief that they may fail to recognize changes in the child's behavior or performance. In the case of a terror attack, there will probably be wide support within the school system, but when a "natural" death occurs, extra support may not necessarily be forthcoming. A close family friend can help fill the gap by taking a special interest in the child, his studies, and his extra-curricular activities. Often the school may be reluctant to "bother" the parents about changes in the child's behavior or performance, and the family friend can also be very helpful with this. Contact between a family representative and the principal — and preferably the teacher(s) — makes it possible to discern a problem the moment it develops and to deal with it. It also enables the school to play a part in the healing process.

The Outer Circle

There is often a relative, neighbor, or good friend who could also be traumatized by the news of the death. In such cases, try to arrange for the news to be broken by a friend who has the time to stay with him. If he has a medical condition or is emotionally vulnerable, make sure that a nurse or medical professional is available as well.

Even Supporters Need Support

Those who are actively involved with the family are usually torn apart, wrung out, and totally wasted by the end of a day, let alone the week. Often they feel that they cannot allow themselves the luxury of breaking down. They feel they must be strong for everyone else.

Anyone who has ever been a supporter knows the adrenalin-like rush they experience. It is hard to leave. Often a supporter will push aside his own feelings, totally focusing on the survivors and the bereaved. This also works as a defense mechanism because it prevents the supporters from confronting their own demons about what happened. It is not unusual for people to remain until late at night and feel the uncontrollable urge to find someone else to help.

To relieve the pressure, there should be shifts of helpers. If you see a support person starting to "lose it", take him for a walk and get him to talk, cry, eat, or drink.

My friend Valerie was a dynamo during a very difficult shiva. Often she was the first one there in the morning, staying until late at night. On the third day, in her own words, she "lost it". She began yelling at someone who wasn't working fast enough. Luckily, a friend took her by the hand and gently told her, "Let's take a walk."

None of us are super-people. We all need breaks.

No one should work more than a few hours at a time before taking a break. Go home, jog, read a book, clean the house — anything as long as it's away from the stress zone.

As supporters, we must also be aware of our food intake. Often we do not eat regular meals but grab a few potato chips and a cup of coffee, saying, "I am too busy. I will eat later. I have to take care of. . . ." Eating right and trying to get enough sleep will benefit everyone in the long run.

Sleep can often be a problem. Supporters often have trouble falling asleep and even when they do, their thoughts run wild with strange or disturbing dreams. If you have trouble falling asleep, try reading or — if you can — meditation. My grandmother swore by warm milk with a splash of any liquor that was around the house. It is not advisable to watch television, which can be a stimulant rather then a relaxant — especially if you are watching the news. If you still have trouble, consult your physician immediately. He may even temporarily prescribe Valium or a similar tranquilizer.

Nightly Meetings

The nightly meetings of the supporters, mentioned above, have a number of purposes.

  • They allow the group to get together and discuss what happened during the day, and — more importantly — talk about what they are going through personally.

  • The meetings help them plan for the next day.

  • If there is a professional at the meeting, it will make it possible for the supporters to get expert advice about the best way to handle various situations.

Sometimes these meetings have to be disguised so that the "supporters" show up. Once, at a house of mourning, I noticed a young man with a haunted look on his face. Knowing that he would never go on his own, I told him that it was important for him to be at the meeting in order to help someone else who didn't feel comfortable going alone.

Remember: there is no one who doesn't need a shoulder to lean on at one time or another. There is one other vital point to keep in mind when it comes to support. Second guessing ourselves is natural in every day life. The difference is that in difficult, stressful, and uncomfortable situations we are all likely to add guilt to the equation. "If I only had said...." While it is true that there are things we could have done better, it is important to understand and to internalize that we are doing our very best and are performing a vital service — even if we occasionally make mistakes. As with everything else in life, we need to have enough self-confidence to be able to learn from our mistakes and improve.

More on "Little" Support People

There is one group of very important support people which are often overlooked — the children. While we, the adults, spend most of our time with the grieving adults, it is often the children who are on the front lines when it comes to interacting with mourning children.

The following guidelines should be used for children who serve as support people:

  • Limits should be placed on the length of time they spend in a house of mourning.

  • A child who is a supporter will need quiet time with his parents when he gets home, during which:

    • He should be given something to drink and/or eat, while his parent sits with him

    • Other children should not disturb them. This signals to him that the parent is serious and really cares.

    • The parent should sit close by, preferably on the same eye level. If possible, the parent should take the child's hand and ask questions such as, "How did it feel when...?" "It must be really hard to see a friend in pain...." "What did you do when...?" In other words, they should be very specific questions that are designed to elicit a response. Just asking "How did it go?" will probably generate a monosyllabic response like "OK." Take your cues from the responses. A parent who normally has a good rapport with his child will find this easier.

  • If the pressure seems to be a bit much for the child, he should be encouraged to keep up with his regular activities.

A child supporter needs a lot of encouragement, support, and love. Knowing that his parents understand the difficulty of what he is doing, and show how proud they are that he is doing it, will strengthen the child's self-image and make him secure in the knowledge that he can function in a difficult situation.