Everyone deals with grieving differently. There is no perfect statement or gesture that will resonate the same way with everyone. Taking time to listen and understand how the person is feeling, and what they may need, is the best way to start. Being there for them, even if it is just to sit and be present, is often the best way to offer comfort and support.
Things to consider when you want to be helpful:
- Listen. Truly listen.
- Check in on them. They may feel like they’re being a burden by reaching out when they’re sad so proactively checking in on them to let them know you’re thinking of them is a nice way to let them know you care and you want to be a part of their grieving process.
- Remind them that you’re there for them, as long as you’re able to actually be there for them.
- Bring groceries. Just dropping off the staples can lift a weight off of someone who doesn’t have the energy to go to the store and worry about small tasks.
- Bring a meal. Something they can freeze or cook when they feel up to it.
- Offer to help with yard work. Mowing the grass or weeding will be on the bottom of the list of things they’re worried about.
- Help with cleaning their house, or have a house cleaning service come in for them. Having a clean space can help improve energy and mood. But they may not feel like doing it themselves.
- Give them a place to stay. Let them know they can stay with you when they’re feeling too lonely to be in their home alone.
- Suggest a trip to a local park or venue. Something quiet but outside to have a change of scenery
- Run errands or help manage small tasks. Little things can start to pile up and then feel overwhelming if they don’t feel up to managing them.
- Talk about the person who passed. Don’t be afraid to say their name and talk about your favorite things about them.
- Send a note to them on special dates like anniversaries, birthdays, or any holiday you know they might be missing their loved one a little more than normal.
Things you shouldn’t say or do:
- Don’t minimize their feelings by offering up a positive spin on things.
- Don’t tell them it will be okay. Or to be strong. Or that time will heal their pain. Let them feel, let them cry, let them process in their own time.
- Don’t say they’re in a better place now. People think they are helping with that statement, but when someone is grieving there is nowhere else in the world they feel that person should be than right there with them.
- Don’t say you know how they feel. Even though you may think you know how they feel, we all feel differently and process things differently.
- Don’t say you’re there for them if you can’t be.Saying you’re there but then not actually being there isn’t fair. Only offer what you’re able to give.
Grieving is a hard process that can last a very long time or even never stop. The needs of your grieving friend or loved one may change as they grow through their grief. By being supportive and letting them know you care and that you want to be a part of their healing, you may be able to help make their day or week a little brighter and a little less scary.