Helping Someone Grieve: 8 Small Ways to Support Your Loved One

By Sher Warkentin in Helping Hands

When someone you care about suffers a loss, it can leave you at a loss on how to help. Helping someone grieve doesn't have to be complicated. There are a lot of simple ways that you can offer support. Consider these eight small gestures to support your loved one in this difficult time.

1. Just Listen

This might sound obvious, but when someone you love is grieving, it can be tempting to offer them advice or suggestions on how to move forward in order to help them feel better. The best thing you can do is just listen. You might not be able to take away the pain, but it can help to let them release their thoughts and feelings.

2. Don't Wait to Be Asked

You don't want to feel intrusive when you're helping someone grieve, but at the same time when you say something like, "Let me know if I can help," chances are you won't get much response. Instead, offer specific assistance, like asking if you can bring dinner over on a set night or offering to take the kids to the park after school.

Set up a meal train to deliver dinners.

3. Cook for Them

Preparing food and eating can sometimes fall by the wayside when you're dealing with loss. Keeping someone fed is an easy way that you can show your support and make sure they stay healthy. Organize a meal train and invite others to sign up to make dinner. Restaurant gift cards or signing a family up for a meal delivery service are other helpful options.

4. Help with Daily Tasks

Listening and offering a shoulder to cry on are important, but helping someone grieve can also be about alleviating some of life's burdens so they are free to take time for themselves. Walk the dog, vacuum the house, do the grocery shopping, or complete any other tasks that seem simple, but can feel impossible to accomplish when you are grieving.

5. Don't Compare

The grieving process is different for everyone. While it can be helpful to share your own experiences with loss, never try to compare the situation to your own or how you dealt with it. Tell your story, but avoid saying things, like "I know just how you feel."

Getting some fresh air and exercise can help.

6. Get Moving

Physical exercise can be a great way to deal with grief and feelings of sadness. Invite your bereaved friend to go on a walk together or to take a yoga class. Getting your heart pumping or at the very least enjoying some fresh air can break up a long day and help someone get a better night's rest.

7. It's OK to Smile

Facing a loss is incredibly sad, but that doesn't mean smiling and laughing aren't allowed. Don't be afraid to bring up topics that are light. A laugh can help break up some of the sadness. Reminiscing about a funny moment or even spending the afternoon on the couch watching a comedy movie can help. Just don't be surprised if the laughter is followed by tears. All emotions are valid while grieving.

8. Keep in Contact

After a loss, there is often an immediate outpouring of support. Then, after a couple of weeks, life moves on for those around you, but it can continue to be challenging and emotional for the person who is coping with loss for a long time to come. Even if it's as simple as a weekly or daily phone call, keep checking in and letting them know that you are still there offering support.

Always remember that grief and loss are different for everyone. Let your loved one take the time they need and react the way they feel most comfortable. If you're still feeling unsure about how to help or what to say, just being present can be a relief.

What are some ways you've helped someone cope with a loss? Share your stories with us on Twitter.

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Why It’s Good

It can feel complicated to say or do the right thing when someone you care about has suffered a loss. However, helping someone grieve can be as simple as just listening and being present.