How to Help Your Grieving Friend

How to Help Your Grieving Friend

“I do not know what to do.”

“I don’t want to disturb her.”

“I feel so uncomfortable.”

Sound familiar? Unless we have personally experienced grief—and sometimes even then—we often feel uncomfortable around grieving people. We tell ourselves that they need space or that there are people better suited to offer comfort. We text them and tell them to let us know if there’s anything we can do.

Our discomfort can make them feel even more alone.

So what can we do? How can we put their needs ahead of our own concerns and show up for our friend (literally or figuratively)?


This is number 1, 2 and 3 on the list. If your friend wants to tell you the same story about her for the eighth time, listen up. If he wants to scream and scream and cry, don’t try to cheer him up; Listen. Don’t check your phone or watch. Instead, listen carefully and validate your friend’s feelings. You can’t make up for their loss, but by listening, you can help them process it.

Talk about yourself.

We may not want to bring up the deceased because we “don’t want to remind them.” Here’s a fact: you haven’t forgotten. If you knew the person, tell your friend a story about them or share the memory in a letter. If not, ask questions. “How was her name?” “How did you meet?”

Your girlfriend can’t make new memories with her person. Sharing old memories is a way for them to feel close to them and maybe even learn something new. It also shows that your words are not just superficial. It’s the difference between saying you’re sorry and showing that you care.

But always follow the lead of the mourner. If she says she doesn’t feel like talking or shuts down, don’t take it personally. Your goal is to be there for her in whatever way she finds useful.

send pictures.

If you have any pictures or videos of yourself, be sure to send them along. When my daughter died, a friend sent me a 3 minute video of her that was taken ten years ago. I’ve watched this video about 752 times and it made me smile at every one of them. It also pierces my heart, but my heart is pierced nonetheless. Submit the picture or video. It’s never to late. Even if you find it a year or three after the burial, send it.

Make a note of important dates.

Expect that birthdays, those of your friends and their loved ones, can be particularly difficult. The same applies to the day of death of the person. And then there are holidays, which can also be heartbreaking. Make a note on your calendar to remind yourself to get in touch. As the years pass, the pain will likely take a different form for your friend, but important dates serve as time markers that have passed since death and can bruise forever.

Plant something.

Planting a tree or flowering bush is a beautiful tribute to the deceased. If your friend has space, ask her if you would like to make it for her in her own backyard. If not, see if there’s a community garden or other public place nearby to plant. It’s not just a way of thoughtfully commemorating the person; It also gives the mourner something to take care of over time.

Watch out for your children.

Don’t forget your friends’ children who may be overlooked in the chasm of grief. Even if it’s their loss as well, people are likely to focus more on the adults.

The night my sister died, my mother’s best friend cornered me and said, ‘You have to take care of your mother now. Losing a child is too much for anyone.”

“How can I take care of my mother?” I wondered. “Won’t she take care of me?”

Even if the children did not know the person who died, they live with their parents’ grief and could use a little more care and attention.

If you feel awkward and uncomfortable, it’s because grief is actually uncomfortable and uncomfortable. Accepting that and showing up anyway is the best way to help your friend.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *