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Helping Someone Who’s Grieving

Here are some practical and thoughtful things you can do to help support a grieving friend or family member.

How many times have you tried to provide care or support to a family member or friend who has lost a loved one but agonized over what to do for them? We’ve all sent flowers, taken food, sent cards or said “Let me know if I can help”. Most people who have dealt with the loss of a loved one will tell you they receive an abundance of support in the direct aftermath of a death but as the weeks go on, company leaves, meals are no longer delivered, visits taper off and communication dwindles. Life goes on but that husband, wife, mother, father or child is left alone with their grief. This is when reality sets in and life
gets hard. Here are some practical and thoughtful things you can do to help support a grieving friend or family member.
 
Show up: While telling a loved one to reach out if they need something might seem like a genuine gesture it could put pressure on someone who is already exhausted or make the person feel anxious to reach out because they don’t want to be a burden. They might need help with mowing the lawn, watering plants, caring for a pet, buying groceries or cleaning the house. Consider helping with errands such as dry cleaning or prescriptions, or dropping off/picking up their child(ren) at school or other events. Sending a card with a book of stamps, a gift card for gas, food or a cleaning service are extremely helpful and can be used when needed. A care package for a grieving child brings comfort. Sometimes a loved one will need you to help make decisions or just be there for them when they are ready to sort through their loved one’s belongings.
 
Get them out of the house: A grieving person can often tend to isolate, especially if they are widowed or do not have family close to them. Offer to take them out for a meal or accompany them to a grief support group or appointment such as the doctor or bank. Offer to visit the cemetery with them or go on a walk or hike together. Schedule a recurring movie, game or dinner night to help give them something to look forward to.
 
Listen: Be available for emails, talks on the phone or show up for in person visits. A person might not be ready or able to leave the house but you can offer to bring a meal or even cook a meal together as you reminisce with them. Offer a listening and compassionate ear without trying to fix or judge them. Continue to share memories and to talk about their loved one for this helps provide comfort.
 
Stay involved: Continue to check in on your loved one on a regular basis. Grieving is a process that can last for months or even years so continue to be patient and present through the tears, anger and outbursts. Suggest they see a counselor if they appear to be struggling. A simple phone call or text message to say you are thinking of them means so much. Show up with a small candle or bouquet of flowers. Share a piece of pie and a cup of coffee. Laugh together and cry together. Send a card with words of encouragement or scripture. Check in on the days you think may be difficult, especially on holidays. Consider setting a reminder on your phone or calendar to help you keep track of these dates.

Erin Hutchins Johnson

July 8, 2022, 5:00:00 AM