How To Help A Grieving Friend

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What do you do or say to a grieving person? How do you help them through this ordeal? When you are faced with someone you has lost someone they love, it can be difficult. You do not want to intrude but at the same time you do not want to be insensitive. The lack of compassion is equally brutal as being too intrusive. But how do you strike the balance and become a friend who consoles? Here’s how to help a grieving friend in very practical ways.

How To Help A Grieving Friend: Understand the nature of losing someone you love

Losing a loved one is one of the most excruciating experiences one can ever have. Many go through a roller coaster of emotions from anger to depression. With the death of a loved one, many face the feeling of loneliness and isolation. This is why we have to help grieving friends.

Here are important points to consider when helping a grieving friend:

  • People deal with grief differently. Some may cry others may even shut out other people. Regardless of coping mechanism, understand that this is their process to deal with the situation. Respect that.
  • People get over the loss at different rates/speed. This is why some people still feel the effects of the loss years after it happened. Others may take only a few days or weeks. How fast or slow one eases into the new situation must be give importance. Although we want to help them accept the realities, we do not simply force them to do so.

Learn the comfort of being silent

When we help out a grieving friend, it pays to listen and just shut up. In many cases, grieving people would like to express their sorrow, anger, loneliness or whatever emotions they have inside. It is important that we lend an ear to those who need it.

Practical tips to help a grieving friend:

  • Shut up. Let the person talk.
  • Sometimes being silent allows the bad feeling to melt away. Of course it will not be quick. But it helps to be silent in times when silence is best for the person.
  • Choose the right words
  • One important part of consoling a grieving friend is to say the right words at the right time. We want the person to realize that they are not alone in the ordeal. Likewise, you are not there to force them to feel good in site of the situation.
  • Sincerity is essential. It is essential for the person to understand that you understand what they are going through.
  • Sensitivity and tact is critical. It is already a stressful situation and adding stress to the moment with tactless remarks will be of no use.

Try to avoid these words and phrases:

  • I know how you feel – the truth is no one really knows how others feel. They may have similar experiences but how they react to it may be different.
  • Look at the bright side (or something similar) – Losing someone you love does not really scream “bright side’ Right now, they are in a deep, dark dismal place.
  • God has a plan – Although the religious and spiritual cling to the hopes of eternal life or Divine plan, not all believe this way.
  • People who are grieving think differently. And how we interpret a string of words can be different for someone who lost someone. So it is prudent to choose your words properly.

Let them grieve and help do the rest

Let the grieving person and their family to focus on the grief and the loss. In stead of just sitting around you can be more useful by doing more practical activities to help the family.

  • Help tidy up
  • Help serve food or beverages
  • Help with whatever arrangements are required – funeral arrangements, contacting friends and family, arranging for accommodations, etc.
  • Help take phone calls or messages for the bereaved friend or family
  • Help with household chores or other activities – picking up kids from the school, cleaning the house, etc.

In many cases, grieving people will not have the energy or enthusiasm to go about their daily lives. But life has to go on. This is why you need to pick up the slack wherever it may be. A good friend will go out. If you want you can have several friends have a shift on who will help and when.

It is not easy when you lose someone. But the pain and the burden can be easier to carry when people are there to help. As a friend, it is our responsibility to help out in whatever ways we can. I hope this article will help you on how to help a grieving friend.


In memory of the 44 SAF Officers who died in the line of duty – January 25-26, 2015, Tukanalipao, Mamasapano, Maguindanao.  We will never forget your sacrifice.

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I'm a proud dad and husband. Everything else is just life's clutter.

1 thought on “How To Help A Grieving Friend”

  1. Hello Bro! Thank you very much for sharing these tips! You know what, this is an eye opener and extremely helpful to effectively help a grieving friend. You know, sometimes, it’s a common phrase to say “I know how you feels”… and yes, I realized that no one really knows how other people feel. I agree with you, we cannot force a grieving person to think positively at the time of sorrow. You know, empathy is needed to effectively do this and these tips are perfect for that. Have a great day Bro!


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