Watching a friend lose a loved one is a very emotional event for everyone involved. While you may feel confused or lost on how to best support your friend, one of the most important and best things you can do is acknowledge their loss and let them know you are there to listen to them during this significant loss. There are a few important ways that you can communicate your support and know what to say to a grieving friend. We have rounded up some of the best ideas to help your friend know that you are there to listen in their time of loss. If you need ideas on how to comfort someone who lost a loved one, read the tips below!
Be a Listening Ear
Oftentime after experiencing a loss, people need time to work through all the complicated and sometimes conflicting emotions that accompany the loss of a loved one. Your friend might find they need to talk, cry, or just sit in silence. Many people who are grieving feel huge amounts of judgment by their friends and family members, and you might struggle with the right words to comfort a grieving friend. It is important for you to share with them that you are there to listen to them without judgment, no matter what they need. One of our favorite quotes by Jessica Anne Zucker is,
“I will listen to you. I will cry with you. I will even laugh with you. Whatever you need, I will be there with you.” –Jessica Anne Zucker
It is also important to utilize compassionate listening. Silence can feel awkward, but you do not need to fill it with endless chatter. Sometimes silence is the best invitation for your friend to share. You do not have to have solutions to their grief (and really… there is on way to fix it!), but you can help them immensely by empathetic listening.
Offer to Help with Their Home
You can also help your friend by offering to help them with their home. Some simple ideas include bringing them a home cooked dinner. You can also send them a meal through Take them a Meal, which is a great and easy way to send a thoughtful and healthful option.
Other ideas include offering to take their kids for a few hours, cleaning their home or hiring a cleaning service for them to utilize, doing a few loads of laundry, or helping with yard work.
Get them a Personalized Remembrance
Gifting your friend a personalized remembrance is another great way to let your friend know you are there to listen when they are grieving. A gift says, “I’m here for you, I acknowledge your loss, and I want to support you.” Sometimes it can be a helpful way to show your support when you are struggling with what to say when someone loves a loved one.
A personalized necklace is a great option, and it can become a special keepsake your friend can treasure for years to come. We love this Forget Me Not Necklace. You can even add their loved one’s name to the back of this necklace to make it extra special!
A photo album is another special gift that fills the gap if you don’t know what to say when someone passes. You can fill the album with photos of their loved one’s life. There are great services that will take digital images and make a super special photo album. Even if you only have access to a few photos of their loved one, it is a super special gift. You can shop our favorite brand at Chat Books. They make it easy to upload digital photos at an affordable price.
You can also give your friend something that represents a moment with their loved one. This can be as simple as a special embrace that represents their loved one, or as elaborate as sending them flowers “from heaven.” Nikki Pennington of Grief 2 Hope gave the sweetest example of how a friend sent her flowers from her mom in heaven in a super kind and supportive way. This Instagram post has great ideas on what to say to someone who lost someone through this unique gesture.
Send them a Thoughtful Gift
Another great idea of ways to share your words of comfort after a death is to send a thoughtful gift. A gift basket full of their favorite treats is a great way to show your support. After my miscarriage, one of my close friends brought me over a gift basket of things to show her support. There was a super thoughtful sympathy card where she shared her support of me and some words to comfort someone who lost a loved one, some of my favorite chocolate, gourmet popcorn, a fun magazine about home decorating, and a bottle of wine. The gift was perfect because it included a little of everything that I needed – acknowledgement of my loss, some treats, a bottle of wine, and a magazine to give me a mental break from focusing on my miscarriage.
Flowers are another thoughtful gift to let your friend know you are there to listen. Oftentimes grievers get a ton of flowers right after the loss, so I always recommend to send the flowers three months after the loss occurs, at their loved one’s birthday, or at the anniversary of their loss. It makes more of an impact at those times, and it also reminds them that you are always there to listen – no matter how long their grief takes.
Lastly, you can show your support by giving a donation in their loved one’s name. You can choose their favorite charity, or another organization that is connected to their passions. For example, if they rescued dogs from their local animal shelter, you can give a donation in their name to their local shelter. If they loved hiking and the outdoors, you can donate to an organization that supports nature conservancy. If they enjoyed the beach, you can support a group that helps protect local shores. There are so many creative ways to give a donation in honor of a friend’s loved one, and the gesture shows that you are there to support your friend no matter what.
While your friend might just need some space to process their loss, often people need other things like hugs, a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear, or even just help with dinner. Be there for them in whatever capacity they need so they can heal. We hope this list of ideas helps you know what to say to someone who is grieving!