Grief is a complex and powerful emotion. When the people close to us experience grief, it can be challenging to know how to support them in such a vulnerable state. When supporting a loved one who is grieving, compassion and empathy are key.
Everyone grieves differently—some people need a shoulder to cry on while others feel your love through home cooked meals or simply letting your friend know you’re available if they need to talk.
If you know someone struggling with grief, we’ve put together eight ways to help our friends during this fragile time in their lives.
8 Ways to Help a Grieving Friend
- Have a sympathetic ear. One of the best ways to help a grieving friend is to simply listen to them. Allow them to feel safe in expressing their emotions, thoughts and needs. Avoiding jumping to putting a positive spin on things or offering advice (unless asked). Really take in what they are saying and let them feel heard.
- Help out with meals. When dealing with grief, even getting out of bed each day can be a struggle, so having the energy to cook yourself or your family meals throughout the day can be extra challenging. Bringing your friend home cooked meals can make all the difference when supporting someone going through a difficult time.
- Extend a helping gesture. Grief can make everyday tasks so overwhelming that they seem impossible. Offer to help your friend with things they may feel uncomfortable asking you directly. This can be watching their kids for a couple hours, going grocery shopping, taking their pet for a walk, or helping with sorting through certain belongings.
- Check in often. It can be easy to feel like you’re being overbearing, but showing constant support and compassion can go a long way for someone who is grieving. A daily or weekly check in to see how they are feeling and how you can support them can help them feel seen, supported, and loved.
- Validate their feelings. When helping someone through grief, it’s easy to jump to cliches like “time heals all wounds.” Instead, try to acknowledge the difficulty of their grief journey and validate how they feel in that moment.
- Remember the big dates. Dates like one month or year anniversaries, holidays, or birthdays can be extremely difficult for those who have suffered loss. Reach out, whether it means a call, text, note, or showing up to celebrate and remember or mourn.
- Offer to connect them to someone you know who may have gone through something similar. Sometimes one of the most helpful things when going through a hard time is talking to someone who has been through the same experience. Connecting two friends who have gone through similar losses can be extremely helpful for them both.
- Support them in talking to a professional if needed. Grief can be overwhelming and a long process for many. If you notice your friend really struggling to cope, encourage them to see a professional and offer to look for a professional with them, or even join them for their first session.
Suggesting a grief therapy support group is another great way to help a friend through this difficult time.
Valera Health offers multiple virtual grief and loss group therapy for individuals living in the state of New York. In these groups, participants will gain mutual support, have a safe space to process their feelings, and learn coping mechanisms to help them through the stages of grief. Learn more about the benefits of joining a grief support group here.
Supporting a friend through grief is a testament to the strength of our friendships and depths of our compassion and sympathy. While we navigate the terrain of loss alongside our grieving friends, it’s important to remember to be kind and help them toward healing and renewal at their own pace.