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  • Writer's pictureJoel Hutton

10 Ways to Provide Good Grief Support

Often times when a family member or friend are going through grief it can be difficult to know what to say, what to do, and how to be there for them. Some of us might think - should I bring up the loss? I don't want to remind them of it, if they are having a good day. Or we may say to ourselves, they will let me know if they need something. Or we may think we will be annoying if we try to have a conversation about the loss.

These thoughts and others like them can cause a disconnect during a time when your family member or friend needs you the most. In light of that and the fact you probably really do want to be there for them, here are 10 ways to provide good grief support.

1. Make yourself available - be aware that your loved one may have feelings of loneliness and abandonment; try to be sure that you don’t unintentionally contribute to these feelings.

2. Be the one to take the initiative to reach out; try to understand that your loved one may have difficulty doing so themselves right now.

3. Be aware that a grieving person might feel that they need to hide their feelings because they’re worried that others can’t deal with the emotions; encourage them not to do that with you. Let them know it’s ok to cry, be scared, or angry; you won’t judge.

4. Offer them the opportunity to tell you what they need and want. Ask your bereaved friend what you can do; if they don’t know, make suggestions. Offer to help run errands, take them a meal or coffee, or maybe just to spend some quiet time together.

5. Don’t expect reciprocity while your loved one is grieving; try to understand that they might not be able to meet expectations and demands as usual. Try to be aware of your own feelings and be sure you are not putting them on the grieving person.

6. Listen thoughtfully - share advice sensitively and honestly only if requested of you; be willing to sit in silence, hold their hand or give them a hug.

7. Be patient with the grieving process and its progress or setbacks. Show respect for your loved ones emotions no matter where they are in the grieving process.

8. Be a safe person. Your loved one may share confidential information. Keep their thoughts and emotions between the two of you. Don’t gossip. Share only if their safety is in jeopardy .

*If your loved one is having thoughts of suicide or hurting themselves, listen, do not overreact. If they are having daily suicidal thoughts, planning, rehearsing the act, and/or have had a previous suicide attempt, please direct them to professional and the suicide hotline (1.800.273.8255).

9. Remember specific dates. Your loved one is most likely never going to forget the deceased person's birthday or death date. Reach out to them on this day and let them know you are there for them and that you remember too.

10. Last and surely not least - remember the deceased and talk about this person with your loved one. Don’t be afraid to mention their name or ask about special memories they may have had. 


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