Grief and Supporting Others

A grieving person needs a friend who will come alongside through the journey of healing and restored hope.  It’s often not so much what one says, but how they support. 

BE THERE.  Grieving people need support and presence more than advice.

INITIATE AND ANTICIPATE.  People often don’t know or can’t ask for what they need.  Suggest times you’d like to visit and ways you’d like to help.  Allow choice.

LISTEN.  People often need to tell their stories over and over.  Listening without judgment or interruption may be a valuable gift.

AVOID CLICHES AND EASY ANSWERS.  Acknowledge that you can’t remove their pain, but you can be a friend and stand by them.

ACCEPT AND ENCOURAGE THE EXPRESSION OF FEELINGS.  Reassure a person that feelings are like barometers, indicating where we are in the moment.  Feelings may change many times in the course of grieving.  

OFFER OPPORTUNITIES AND SAFETY FOR REMEMBERING.  “Remembering” can promote healing.  Offer to revisit places and people who can add perspective and confirm the importance of the loss.

HELP THE PERSON FIND SUPPORT AND ENCOURAGEMENT.  Help locate support and activities.  Be encouraging, not pushy.

ALLOW THE PERSON TO GRIEVE AT HIS OR HER OWN PACE.  Grief is triggered in many moments, even unexpected times.  Be patient and caring.

PROVIDE TIMES OF LIGHTHEARTEDNESS.  Laughter and diversion are wonderful ways to regain energy.  

BELIEVE IN THE PERSON’S ABILITY TO RECOVER AND GROW.  Your hope and faith may be needed when theirs fails.  Your trust in the other’s ability is essential.  Be a steady, faithful, patient friend.