How To Help Someone Who Is Grieving

Navigating the complex emotions of grief is a tough journey for anyone. Here are some pointers to help you offer comfort and support to a grieving friend or family member during this challenging time.

Providing Support and Comfort

Being present for a grieving individual is often more meaningful than words can describe. Simple actions like sending a heartfelt card, preparing a meal, or helping with household chores can provide immense relief. Scheduling regular check-ins to listen and offer emotional support is also invaluable.

Rather than assuming how they should grieve, be flexible and accommodating. If they’re spending the holidays with you after a loss, for example, ask in advance about any special remembrances they’d like to have. Be cautious with your choice of words—asking, “How are you feeling today?” recognizes the ongoing emotional challenge they’re facing.

Understanding Their Grief

Keep in mind that grief is a highly personal experience; there’s no one-size-fits-all. People go through a range of emotions, sometimes unpredictably. Offering advice on how they should feel or act could end up causing more harm than good. Empathetic statements like, “This must be incredibly tough for you,” can open the door for meaningful conversation without judgment.
Avoid offering platitudes, especially in the early stages of grief. Offer specific help with daily tasks, such as, “Can I help with grocery shopping this week?” This concrete offer allows the grieving person time and space to heal.

Offering Practical Assistance

Your practical help can be a godsend during this tough period. Many people who are grieving lose focus on their daily responsibilities. Offering to take care of tasks like lawn mowing or sorting mail can be a huge help. If they have children or pets, providing occasional babysitting can offer them some much-needed respite. The point is to be there in any way you can, understanding that each person’s needs may be different.

Offering Practical Assistance

Listening is often the best support you can provide. Grief doesn’t follow a linear path; ups and downs are to be expected. Offer a listening ear without imposing any “should-dos.” Direct help, like cooking or running errands, can also be beneficial. Let them guide you on how you can be most useful to them, and remember, healing is a long-term process.

Connecting With a Professional Helper

If the emotional toll becomes overwhelming, consider suggesting the services of a grief counselor. Make it clear that seeking professional help is a sign of strength and wisdom, not weakness. While respecting their choices, gently remind them of this option when appropriate.

Visiting the Final Resting Place of a Loved One

Accompanying a grieving friend to visit their loved one’s final resting place can be a meaningful experience. Be attentive to their mood and emotional state during the visit, offering conversation or silence as seems most appropriate. Remind them that there is no “wrong” way to grieve and that your main role is to be there, offering emotional support.

Helping someone navigate through grief involves a balance of emotional support and practical assistance. While there is no easy roadmap for this challenging journey, your consistent and compassionate presence can make all the difference.