20 Ways to Help Your Friend Grieve

By: Sherry Williams White
Monday, November 9, 2015

Friends and family often struggle with how to help someone they love or care about deal with grief. Because most people do not know how to express what they need, friends and family find themselves at a loss when trying to help. Sherry Williams White gives concrete ideas for helping which include some very practical things you can do as loved ones travel the grief journey. These tips include things you can do from the time you hear about the death, through special days and holidays as well as the anniversary date of the death.

by Sherry Williams White

People who are grieving do not know what they need. They are bombarded by a barrage of emotions and feel overwhelmed and confused by all of the decisions they are having to make. So if you really want to help your grieving friend, be sure to think in terms of specific things you can to for them to make their grief journey less difficult. Here are a few suggestions that might stimulate your thinking:

Ask people to share one word that describes the person who died, to be shared at the eulogy.
Provide child care for the funeral visitation. Or, have someone watch children at the visitation so parents and children can participate at their own level and pace without worry.
Provide someone to sit at the house while the family is at the funeral home.
Create a video featuring different people sharing their memories of the person who died. Present it to your friend as a gift.
Have friends of the deceased write their favorite memories of the person. Collect their writings in a scrapbook and present it to your friend as a gift.
Send a card on the anniversary date of the death.
Send a magazine subscription instead of flowers.
Remember special days like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or Halloween, with cards.
Take a meal to the house six months after the funeral, and provide a listening ear.
Create a memory garden around the church, synagogue, or clubhouse. Include a special sign that lists the names of people honored there. You can add to the garden each year with a special program.
Hold a memorial walk as a fund-raiser for a bereavement group.
Start a bereavement library in your church, synagogue, or club.
Donate a book to the library in honor of the person who died.
Light candles and say the name of the person who died on special days of significance.
Start a buddy-line, allowing the bereaved to call all hours of the day and night to talk when they need to.
Create a directory of the support groups available.
Start a “li-beary” of stuffed animals to loan to children in a grieving family. Children may return the animal, or replace it with a new one.
Encourage your friend to attend a support group. Find one and go with her, at first.
Create awareness of special issues that touch on death and grieving with campaigns for schools on drinking and driving, drugs, kids and grief, etc.
Offer to baby sit so your friend can have a day or evening out.

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