Knowing how to help a grieving friend can feel really intimidating and tricky. But it doesn’t have to feel impossible or difficult! We have created a list of 10 simple ways to help a grieving friend that can make a huge difference in their feelings of loneliness after loss.
After someone loses a loved one, they are oftentimes extremely emotionally exhausted. Even carrying on small social conversations can feel like running a marathon. This means that when you are speaking with a grieving friend, it is pretty likely there might be moments where there are lulls in the conversation or they become quiet during your time together.
In these moments, it can feel really tempting to fill the silence with idle small talk or cliches about life after loss. I want to encourage you to try and avoid those tendencies. Emotional space to process grief is really important for grieving people, but sitting in silence, giving them permission to feel their emotions, and supporting them in whatever comes next, is a great gift.
2) Don’t avoid them
I get it -- talking with a grieving person can feel intimidating and you might want to avoid conversations altogether. But, I want to encourage you to connect with your friend to let them know you care. There is nothing quite as painful as being avoided after loss. If you really are struggling to know what to say, it is ok to admit that! Just say something simple like, “I don’t know what to say right now, but I want you to know I see you, I love you, and I’m here for you.” Then after you share these words, show up in action.
3) Give them permission to be where they need to be
You can help a grieving friend enormously by giving them permission to be wherever they need to be at that moment in time. Grief is a rollercoaster, and it can feel anxiety producing if you feel like your friends and family have expectations on you. Freeing a friend of expectations is a great gift.
4) Run their Errands
Going out in public after loss is SUPER intimidating. You never know what might trigger your grief, and it feels scary knowing you might have a breakdown in the bakery aisle of the grocery store. Helping a friend by running their errands can make a huge difference in those early days of grief. A few ideas include picking up groceries, running their dry cleaning, or picking up paper goods for their home so they can skip dishes while they grieve.
5) Prepare them Meals
Planning, preparing, and prepping for meals feels impossibly daunting during acute grief. Brining a meal is a super simple way to make a big difference for someone who is grieving. If you are up for it, you can even set them up for a meal sign up schedule so they have weeks of food brought straight to their door. We highly recommend the meal sign up service at take them a Meal. They make it super easy to organize meals for friends, and also have a meal delivery service and tons of recommendations for great drop off recipes.
Unfortunately, losing a loved one also means that the closest of kin must take care of wills, final arrangements, and loads of paperwork. It is oftentimes very confusing, complicated, and takes massive amounts of time to finalize the paperwork that is associated with losing a loved one. If you are able, taking some of the paper or preparations for a funeral or a will off your friends plate can be SO helpful.
7) Take care of pets
This one is simple! You can help by taking their animals out for a walk or to the dog park, bringing them to the vet for their regularly scheduled checkups, helping make sure they still get their flea or tick medicine monthly, or making sure they are bathed and groomed. Animals bring a huge amount of comfort to grievers, and it can be a huge comfort to know they are being well cared for.
You can give a friend great support and help by taking care of their housework. Whether that is cleaning the kitchen, cleaning the fridge (it can be overwhelming when you are given many meals to remember what is expired or fresh), folding laundry, washing linens, or mowing the grass. These are little things that can feel very loving in a time of loss.
9) Send a One Time Gift
It can also be really sweet to choose a thoughtful sympathy gift for your friend. We offer beautiful classic keepsake gifts that can be treasured year round. Whether it is our Custom Memorial Candle, a piece of remembrance jewelry, or a gift for the garden, every piece in our shop is designed to help your grieving friend.
And while a custom sympathy gift is perfect for the first few weeks or months after loss, we also love the idea of sending a gift from our self care collection after a bit of time has passed. Oftentimes by three to six months later, support systems have somewhat fallen apart, but your grieving friend will love being remembered well after all the well wishers fade away.
10) Send a subscription gift
Lastly, we love the idea of sending a subscription gift. Our subscription program offers the option to send 3 or 6 gifts during the first year of grief timed to arrive on custom dates that might be hard for your friend. It’s a beautiful way to show you care!