Everyday ways of supporting someone who has experienced loss
There are many ways to support someone who has gone through a loss.
One of the most important things to do first is to express your willingness to support them.
Asking someone if they want help can establish a good foundation for support.
In some cases, a person might resist help but you notice signs of neglect or poor physical or mental health.
It’s best to always express your feelings directly and honestly while also highlighting that you are concerned for their well-being.
Remember the following as you offer support to someone who appears to show signs of grief:
- If you're unsure of what to say, or have trouble providing emotional guidance, offering practical, everyday support is a sincere, productive way to help; it may help reduce the burden of everyday life so they can focus on managing their feelings
- Those who deal with grief may have trouble asking for help for fear of burdening others, or are too overwhelmed to reach out; ask what you can do or provide proactively
- Offer to help with a specific task related to the funeral, everyday errands, or just be there as a shoulder to cry on
- Recovery from grief takes time so it's possible that the other person may need continue support for many months; proactively stay in touch with a periodic call or an in-person visit can be extremely valuable, especially on special days which may require extra support, such as holidays, birthdays and anniversaries
Everyday ways to support someone
- Shop for groceries or run errands.
- Drop off a casserole or other type of food.
- Help with funeral arrangements.
- Stay in your loved one’s home to take phone calls and receive guests.
- Help with insurance forms or bill
- Take care of housework, such as cleaning or laundry
- Watch their children or pick them up from school
- Drive your loved one wherever they need to go
- Look after your loved one’s pets.
- Go with them to a support group meeting.
- Accompany them on a walk.
- Take them to lunch or a movie.
- Share an enjoyable activity (sport, game, puzzle, art project).
Funeral- and death-related tasks you can help with
- Cook food for post-memorial event
- Help clean out the deceased's home
- Order flowers
- Gather mementos and photos of the deceased
- Offer to give a eulogy
- Make a donation in the deceased's name
- Offer to contact people on behalf of the bereaved
Activities you can do
Spending time with your loved one is another way to show you care. Offer to participate in some low-stress activities with the friend or family member.
- Going for a walk or bike ride
- Day trips to local attractions
- Board games
- Arts and Crafts
Do’s and Don’ts for Talking
When it comes to talking with someone who has gone through a loss, recognize that everyone responds to grief differently. There is no one right way or timeline for grieving, so being empathetic and patient is key.
Some tips can help you make the most of any conversations with a loved one:
- Keep it simple and heartfelt
- Ask them if they are open to talking
- Allow them to speak if they want to, avoiding interruptions as they talk
- Don’t make cliche statements like “time will heal all wounds”
- Don’t rush them to finish grieving on your timeline
- Don’t presume to know what or how they are feeling
- Don’t impose your personal or religious beliefs on others
- Don’t talk about what “should” have happened regarding the passing, services, or other issues
- Do respond when someone reaches out for help
- Don’t look for the positives or the silver lining in the situation