How to Help a Friend who is Grieving

Do’s:

Let your genuine concern and caring show.  Express your sorrow about the death and acknowledge your friend’s pain.  Remember: sayings something is better than saying nothing.

Be available to listen. The grieving person needs to express their thoughts and feelings about what has happened.  They may long for the opportunity to go over all of the events that have occurred and express their feelings of loss.

Offer to help in a specific way.

  • Prepare and deliver a meal on a pre-arranged night.
  • Babysit for the children (of there are any) so the parents can go to the funeral home, make arrangements at the church, cemetery, etc..
  • Make a “goodie-basket” if there are small children.  Fill it with books, crayons, toys, etc..  The parents appreciate the thought, while the children enjoy the diversion.
  • Contact any out-of-town relatives or friends and make lodging arrangements for them (if needed).
  • Pick up people at the airport, train station, etc..
  • Clean the bereaved family’s house or cut their lawn.
  • Invite the grieving family for dinner or a cookout.  It will make them feel included in day-to-day living.
  • Make lunches for school age children for a week or two.

Write a note saying something personal about the person that died and what your relationship with them meant to you.

Give spiritual support.  Sending a Mass card, a religious sympathy card, or just saying, “I’ll be praying for you,” helps the family realize just how many people care about them and are concerned about the loss they are experiencing.

Use the name of the loved one when speaking of the recently people tend to feel uneasy about uplifting for the family to hear your favorite memories of and feelings for their loved one.

Encourage the grieving family to be patient and not expect too much of themselves.

Allow the family to talk about person they have lost as much and as often as they want.  That relative lived, and died, but will never be replaced or forgotten by those that loved them.

Don’ts:

Don’t avoid a grieving friend because you feel uncomfortable.

Don’t tell anyone how to grieve or what they should feel/do.

Don’t tell someone to, “Put it behind you.” or, “You ought to be feeling better by now.”.  Everyone has their own timetable.

Don’t tell the grieving person you know how they feel.  Individual reactions and feelings are unique.

Don’t change the subject when they mention their dead relative.

(Contributed by Connie Nokes- Roberts, Terry Heineman, Mary Pat Kessler)

Encouragement: A publication by Angela DiCicco and Gail Signor

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