Knowing that someone you care about is grieving the loss of a friend or loved one often presents a challenging dilemma. You want to support them yet may be unsure of how to best comfort them.
A grieving loved one experiences many emotions including sadness, anxiety and anger, often simultaneously. They may feel alone in their grief and need your support now more than ever.
People often worry about what to say to a grieving person, but listening may be more important. They need to feel that it’s okay to acknowledge their loved one and loss.
You needn’t have all the answers or know exactly what to do. The most important thing you can do for a grieving person is to simply be there. Your caring presence will help them cope and begin to heal.
If you are also grieving, remember that sharing your loss and helping someone may provide a welcome distraction from your grief. You may gain strength and relief from connecting with and providing support to another person.
You can help a grieving friend or loved one by doing the following:
- Be available and present
- Be an attentive, compassionate listener
- Be patient; remember that everyone grieves differently
- Ask about their feelings and loss
- Expect a full range of emotions
- Sit quietly with them; they may need silent, supportive company most
- Respect their grief by saying things like “I’m sorry you’re hurting.”
- Offer support by saying things like “How can I be most helpful to you?”
- Encourage them by saying things like “I’m here for you.”
- Follow through with offers of help