The Mourner's Bill of Rights



The Mourner's Bill of Rights

By By Alan Wolfelt, P.h.D.



Though you should reach out to others as you do the work of mourning, you should not feel obligated to accept the unhelpful responses you may receive from some people. You are the one who is grieving, and as such, you have certain “rights” no one should try to take away from you. The following list is intended both to empower you to heal and to decide how others can and cannot help. This is not to discourage you from reaching out to others for help, but rather to assist you in distinguishing useful responses from hurtful ones.


1. You have the right to experience your own unique

grief. No one else will grieve in the exact same way

you do. So, when you turn to others for help, don’t

allow them to tell you what you should or should

not be feeling.


2. You have the right to talk about your grief. Talking

about your grief will help you heal. Seek out others

who will allow you to talk as much as you want about

your grief. If at times you do not feel like talking,

you also have the right to be silent.


3. You have the right to feel a multitude of emotions.

Confusion, disorientation, fear, guilt, and relief are

just a few of the emotions you might feel as part

of your grief journey. Others may try to tell you

that feeling angry, for example, is wrong. Don’t