9 Ways to Help a Support a Grieving Friend
We all experience grief at some time in our life. Helping to support a grieving friend can be a challenge for many reasons, but it doesn’t have to be.
The definition of grief: keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret
This can come from the loss of a spouse, a friend, a pet, a parent, you know… These past couple of years have been heavy -so much loss. And, since I have had a number of really close friends experience loss in their immediate family, I reached out to them. This post is for them -they gave me ideas for this post, and encouraged me to write it. Love you girls -you know who you are…
9 Ways to Help Support a Grieving Friend
As we go through life, we lose people that we love. Parents, grandparents, friends, children… And, often, our dearest friends experience this grief for themselves in their immediate lives, and we want to help them get through this. We want to lighten their load and help lessen their pain.
But, sometimes we are at a loss as to how best to do this. Here are 9 ways to support a grieving friend -your friend.
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Some things to think about to support a grieving a friend…
Every single person has experienced loss of some sort in their life. Maybe it was a long time ago when they lost a grandparent. Maybe they have lost a pet. But, as we age, our friends will begin to lose their parents, their spouses, their friends -even sometimes their kids.
Each situation is awful, and knowing what to do can be challenging. If you know who your friend’s other friends are, create a circle of friendship to surround the grieving one with love, food, erranding, all the things needing doing. As you move through this time as a group, you all can keep each other posted about how things are going, other things that need to be done, and how to gradually let your grieving friend move back into their life.
One more thing to think about is that holidays and birthday times can be incredibly difficult. Any extra love you can show during these times can help.
“When someone you love becomes a memory, that memory becomes a treasure.” -anonymous
Start By Reaching Out
Reach out in whatever way is comfortable to you. This could mean a text, a phone call, an email, a combination of all these things. Let your friend know that you are thinking about them. Sometimes your grieving friend knows what they want or need, but often they do not, so go with your gut on this.
You can do more if it’s needed or reach out to other mutual friends or the griever’s family to see what is needed…
#1 Way to Help Support a Grieving Friend: Be there
When someone experiences a loss, whether it is sudden or a long-time coming, your presence will be welcomed. Go over. Sit quietly. Do their dishes. Field phone calls. Answer the door. Hold their hand. Listen. Share a favorite memory.
If you are far away, it can be a little more challenging, but sending your thoughts, GIFs, and prayers are all ways to show you’re thinking about someone. Send a well thought out letter or card with your thoughts. And, not just at the time of the event. Set a date on your calendar for 6 months or a year down the road, and let your friend know that you are thinking of them.
#2 Way to Help Support a Grieving Friend: Start the conversation
Each person who grieves is different, and there are different stages of grief that they will need to work through. Your friend may want to talk. She may want to sit quietly. She may want you to talk. It may be a combination of all the above. The main thing is not to avoid the situation. Ask your friend what she needs, and if she doesn’t know, then use your best judgement with what you know about her.
“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” ~ Thomas Campbell
#3 Way to Help Support a Grieving Friend: Acknowledge that it sucks
Do not leave the elephant in the room. Talk about what has happened, and how it feels. Do not tell your friend, “I know how it feels.” -unless you have gone through the exact same thing, and even then, everyone’s situation is truly unique.
Just say that you cannot imagine how much it sucks because you feel like crap about it, and it wasn’t even your spouse, parent, or child…
This can open up conversation for your friend because a lot of their friends will avoid the entire situation.
#4 Way to Help Support a Grieving Friend: Help with simple tasks
According to my friends who have gone through terrible times of grief, this might be their favorite. Clean up the kitchen. Make a list of who has brought things. Write their thank you notes for them. Take out the trash.
Look around to see what needs doing. And, just do it. People in the midst of grief cannot think, are numb, and need someone to just take over for awhile. It’s not forever, but even a couple of hours can mean so much to someone who is just beyond words.
#5 Way to Help Support a Grieving Friend: Get personal
There are so many ways that you can do this. If it is a close friend, your presence will be so appreciated.
“You gave me a forever within the numbered days…” ~ John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
#6 Way to Help Support a Grieving Friend: Keep reaching out
Call, text, email, and do it again. They don’t mean to not respond. They aren’t thinking straight right now. If you have always been there for your friend, then continue to be. Drop by to just sit or bring snacks to share or tell them you are running errands and would they like to just ride along.
Some people don’t want company. Some don’t want to be alone. Some are different day to day. It is super helpful to your friend if you just ask them what they want. They may not be able to tell you, but keep reaching out.
#7 Way to Help Support a Grieving Friend: Know the stages of grief
The five original stages of grief are as follows:
Understand that these may not happen in any order, although these are the typical order. Some stages last longer than others, and sometimes a stage is not even experienced. Everyone is different.
#8 Way to Help Support a Grieving Friend: Remember important dates
Jot down the date the event occurred. I have a friend who lost her husband years ago. I still reach out to her on his birthday and death day. I asked her once if that bothered her. She said that it meant a lot to her that I remembered him too, and it felt good to know he was still being remembered. She is happily married again, and has moved on, but this was her first love and the father of her children -he will always live in her heart!
This would be a great time to send a Sugarwish to let your friend/loved one know that you are thinking of them!
“She was no longer wrestling with the grief, but could sit down with It as a lasting companion and make it a sharer in her thoughts.”
~ George Eliot
#9 Way to Help Support a Grieving Friend: Share your memories
This means a lot to a grieving person. Tell them the special memories you have of the person or pet who is gone. Send a card with a remembrance -when you have that memory! Or call for no reason other than you are thinking of them at this moment,
Bonus Way to Help Support a Grieving Friend: Gifting
Related posts to help support a grieving friend
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