Ways to Help a Grieving Friend

Published: December 30, 2022

If you have a friend who is grieving a loss, it can be difficult to know how to help them. Sometimes grieving people withdraw from everyone while others may appear to have changed personalities. These surprising twists and turns can be difficult for a friend who wants to help but does not know what to do. 

We would like to offer some ideas to help you help your friend. Furthermore, we would like to offer you a word of comfort, because we know that you might be grieving the absence of your friend and the fun times you used to have together. Things will get better with time. For now, hold on to hope, for both of you! Now, here are five ways you can help your grieving friend.

1. Ask them what they need.

It is impossible to know what another person is thinking. Even if you are close friends, you might be surprised at your friend’s reaction to loss. It is absolutely okay to not know what to do! It will probably mean a lot to your friend if you gently tell them that you want to help but you aren’t sure how to help. “What can I do to help you?” are seven amazing words to hear from a friend! You can then listen to their thoughts and their grieving heart. If they are having trouble thinking clearly, feel free to offer ideas. Just keep the list short so they do not become overwhelmed with choices. It will likely be a huge encouragement if you ask your friend how you can help them.

2. Don’t ask, just do.

Wait a minute. Doesn’t that contradict number one in our list? We don’t think so. There are times where a friend needs to step in and explain how they are going to help. A few examples might include

“I want to give you and your husband time alone. We would love to bring your children over for supper and a few hours of play on Friday or Saturday. Which day would work best for you?”

“We’re bringing supper over tomorrow night. You can use it right away or put it in your freezer for another day.”

“Jon wants to mow your yard, so when you come home from work and find it trimmed, you’ll know Jon was there. We’re happy to help!”

3. Presence is everything.

In many cultures, after a death, people go to the grieving family and simply sit with them. They might be close friends or complete strangers. In our culture we tend to give one another “space.” However, there is such a thing as too much “space.” Don’t worry about what you should or shouldn’t say. Simply being with them, sitting with them, silently, is a comfort. Let them guide the discussion, or, if they don’t feel like talking, decide to be comfortable with silence. Just being there, can bring so much comfort.

4. Share mementos that remind them you care.

While you are at a store and you see a box of tea or cookies that your friend would like, grab them and add a simple twine ribbon and note. You can then place it on their step and leave or ring their doorbell and wait – whatever you sense they need most. The idea that you are thinking of them can be a tremendous boost. And often it is the little things that can mean so much. Here are some ideas that we would recommend:

          When you’re on your way to their home, leave a couple minutes early and swing by their favorite coffee shop drive-thru. 

          While at the library find a couple of items you know they would enjoy. It will be good for them to think about something else; plus, they will be reminded of your love and care.

          Find a dollar store where for $10 you can put together an amazing basket of comfort: a card, tissues, bath bombs, lotion, candy, a small frame (place a photo of their loved one in it), cute knickknacks, crafting items, a journal, and pens.

          Find a Bible verse or poem plaque that can be a reminder of hope. Or, write the verses on index cards and add a pretty sticker. It does not have to cost much at all!

5. Be patient. 

Everyone grieves differently. Your friend needs patience and love as they wade through this process. Some people might mean well but say some very impatient and unfeeling words to your friend. So, they will be extra thankful that you are not pressuring them to be a certain way. Assure them that you are there for the long-haul! 

It should be mentioned that the situation may come to a point eventually where your friend may need some tough love. For example, if they have been isolating in their house for several months or a year, you may need to encourage them to get out at least once a week. No matter what, be kind and be patient. And you can be certain that your patience is a soothing balm to their heart.

We hope that these will help you as you help your friend. In time, through this loss, we believe that your friendship will likely grow deeper and stronger. Your friend is blessed to have you in their life, to accompany them through this time of grief. We wish you both the very best. 

Thank you for reading! We hope these ideas will help you and your grieving friend. Your friend is blessed to have you accompany them through this time of grief. Feel free to contact us online at Hathaway Family Funeral Homes or call anytime at (508)672-0781 if you have any questions. We are always available to serve you and your loved ones. 

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