Ways to Help Someone Who is Grieving

What to Say to Someone Who is Grieving + Other Ways to Help

Suffering a loss is never easy. When someone you care about is trying to work through their grief, it can be very difficult to know how to support them best. After all, each encounter with grief is unique and personal. Even if you have experience with grief yourself, it won’t compare quite the same with someone else’s journey. There is a wide range of intense feelings and emotions that can well up inside a grief-stricken person, such as profound sadness, anger, guilt, confusion, and loneliness. Now more than ever, they need your love and support to help lift them out of the darkness. Approaching someone in such a delicate state can be daunting, and you may be afraid of saying or doing something that may upset them further. Even if you feel there’s little help you can offer, you might surprise yourself. By reaching out to the bereaved person, you can make a big difference in their life and help usher them onto a path of healing.

What to Say to Someone Who is Grieving

It’s common for many people to spend a lot of energy trying to come up with just the right words to comfort the bereaved. The truth is there are no right words. So it’s important to take that impossible task off your shoulders. There isn’t much you can say to soften the pain they're going through. The most important thing you can ever do for a grieving person is show up. Doing so sends an immediate message to the bereaved that you care about them. Just as important, being present for a person in grief also validates their experience with loss. Your actions will speak louder and be more meaningful than any words you offer.

Your simple presence can have a calming and soothing effect on the bereaved. With your company, they’re not alone for the moment. They may have a lot of emotions and feelings to express. When you stay present and genuinely give over your full attention, you create a safe environment for the bereaved to do so. The safer they feel, the more they’ll share, and the more they share, the easier their journey through grief will go.

When you speak to a grieving person, you can let them know you’re here for them and are happy to listen if they feel like talking. Grief is a complex process. Some days, the bereaved may just want to sit in silence, cry, shout, or simply be held. For that reason, it’s important not to force them into a conversation they aren’t up for. By listening, you can take your cues from the bereaved to determine how to serve them best. If you engage in conversation, talking about the departed is okay. Even mentioning them by name can be empowering for the grief-stricken person. It will help establish a deeper trust because you’re demonstrating that you aren’t afraid to talk about the loss with them. Don’t worry about reminding them of their loss; it’s always on their minds, with or without your input.

As the grief-stricken person talks about their lost loved one, be prepared for the conversation to go in any direction. It may touch on the circumstances surrounding the loss, the legacy of the departed, or a funny memory. If the opportunity presents itself, asking engaging questions can be soothing. For instance, “What was one of your favorite memories with ___?” If you knew the departed, you can share your favorite memory or talk about how they impacted your life. Just remember to keep the topic on the bereaved and the departed. It may be tempting to go into your own grief story but do your best not to unless the bereaved asks you about it.

What to Do for Someone Who is Grieving

Along with showing up to offer emotional support, another wonderful thing you can do for the bereaved is offer them practical assistance. Most people will simply ask, “Is there anything I can do?” The bereaved is so overwhelmed with their feelings and emotions over the loss that they won't be able to answer the question effectively. To start, the question is far too broad. It’s more helpful to offer specific suggestions. For instance, you can say, “I’m going grocery shopping today. What can I bring you?” It’s certainly ok if they decline, but don’t be deterred. If possible, check in with them regularly in case they decide to take you up on an offer. Here are six ways you can provide meaningful support:

  • Help make funeral or memorial service arrangements.
  • Manage communication for the bereaved. Help inform people of the loss and of any upcoming services.
  • Provide transportation for the bereaved.
  • Help manage some household chores, such as laundry, cleaning, or simply picking up the mail.
  • Help look after pets.
  • Offer to do a fun activity with the bereaved, such as taking a walk, going out for a meal, or even enjoying a movie.

Supporting someone through grief requires a delicate balance of words and actions, recognizing the unique and personal nature of their experience. By expressing empathy, sharing memories, and providing practical assistance, you can contribute to their healing process. Remember that grief is a journey, and being a compassionate companion along the way can make a meaningful difference in the life of the bereaved.

Previous post

Empty content. Please select category to preview

Rest in Nature