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How to support grieving families and friends

Talking to grieving families or friends can be difficult. People are often worried about communicating with a grieving person as they don’t really know how to comfort them. This doesn’t change the fact that support matters, though, since it will make the person feel better and cared for. You should support your relatives or friends when they are grieving. You can do or say positive things to cheer them up. By supporting someone, you become more than just a good person, but also a helpful one.

Show your sympathy

There are many ways you can support someone who has been bereaved. You can write them a letter, share a moving story, or just listen to what they want to say, it is important that you are hearty and earnest. You can send a gift or attend a memorial service to express your sympathy. Let the grieving person know you are there for them by continuing your support for weeks or months after the service. You can also give beautiful flowers to honor them. While some people send flowers to the family’s home about a week after the funeral, it is preferableto do so before or right after the funeral to communicate your deepest condolences to the bereaved. Your beautiful floral arrangement will be a sign that you have not forgotten about them or their loss.

Getting in touch

It may not be easy to talk to a family member or friend when their loved one passes away. Fear of saying the wrong thing has become an ice wall that prevents some people from connecting with the bereaved. Such fear should not limit your capability to support those who are grieving, because the worst thing you can say to them is nothing. Grief affects everyone in different ways. For this reason, you should try to understand how the person who is grieving may feel, so that you can get in touch with them in an appropriate way. If you can’t meet them, drop them a line, text them, or write them an email so they know that you care about them. When communicating with them, avoid saying ‘I know how you feel’ or other such statements since you can’t be sure of their actual feelings. Also let them lead the conversation as they may want to go into detail about their loved one and how they passed away. However, it is also possible that they don’t want to tell you about that – in this case, you should not insist on finding out. Keep your promises if you make any, because a grieving person may be feeling insecure after a significant loss. They need to know if family members or friends can support them. If you knew the deceased person, you could talk about them in a positive way and mention the good memories they left you with. This could lighten the heavy heart of your grieving friend or family member.

Be a good listener

If the grieving person talks about their deceased relative or friend, you should listen to them sympathetically, because it can help them deal with their sadness. Let them talk about the person, don’t interrupt them, or try to move the conversation on to a different topic. If they have no words to say, you could simply accompany them quietly in the same room. Some grieving people who don’t talk a lot usually find this gesture supportive enough. Anyway, you should let them express their feelings. Try to make them feel safe while they are expressing their emotions. You may notice the sadness or even anger they express. Whatever it is, respect their feelings. If they seem relieved by their loss, you should not insist that they must be very sad. People grieve in different ways; they sometimes swing between grieving and other things. You may find them crying and wanting to talk about the dead, but soon changing the subject and talk about everyday life, such how things are going in the office or at home.

Be patient

When it comes to supporting someone, patience is key. Perhaps the grief will not end in the first few days and weeks after the funeral, because the bereaved is likely to remember their loved one for a longer time. They may need to cry or talk about their loss for months or years. This is where the support of friends and family means a lot. Make sure you are available when the person who needs your support wants to talk to you, especially at certain times or dates when they will remember their loved one again. Let them know you are there for them and be responsive to any changes in their mood. Tell them that you are ready to support them and be attentive to their mood swings. There is no doubt that grieving people feel deep sorrow, which can sometimes make it difficult for you to remain comfortable around them. But try to be patient and give them time to recover. Also make sure you keep to yourself anything they share with you unless they allow you to share it with other people.

Be helpful

Offer specific, beneficial assistance to the one you support to make their daily life easier. For instance, you can shop and cook for them, in addition to answering their calls. Be genuine in aiding and ask the grieving person what you can do for them. Find out what they need and try to help fulfill it. You may also want to suggest heart-lightening activities. You can offer them to go out for a walk or go shopping together. This will help lift them out of the pit of grief so they can quickly recover from their heartache. If they want to do things that remind them of the person who has passed away, you can take them to a special location or look at memorable photos together. Simple activities like these are very supportive and helpful for the bereaved.