How to Help a Friend Through the Grieving Process

By: Striffler Family Funeral Homes
Thursday, April 28, 2016

How to Help a Friend Through the Grieving Process

When a friend is experiencing the loss of a family member or loved one, it’s only natural to want to try and help them. Because of the emotional complexity many people find themselves unsure of what to say. 

While there’s no one perfect way to offer support and encouragement for your friend, there are a few ground rules which may help you be the best support you can:


  • Understand that your role in this process is to support your friend, not to give them unsolicited advice.


  • It’s important to allow your friend to grieve and your assumptions or opinions about how they should handle their grief, or how they should be reacting to their loss. Unless your friend is engaging in dangerous behavior, like abusing drugs or alcohol, then do your best there for them.


  • You don’t know what the future will hold, and making statements about what the future will bring is unhelpful during a time of overwhelming emotional distress. Instead, focus on the present moment. Try to keep them occupied; centered on a task or activity if possible, and let them know that you care about them, that you understand that they are in pain and that you are here for them.


  • Don't say, “Call me if you need anything” to your friend; it is a moot point because most people aren’t inclined to reach out and admit that they are suffering. Not because they don’t want your help, but because dealing with emotional situations can seem overwhelmingly difficult.


  • Take the time to plan how you will help and initiate time together with your friend. Say “I’ll be by on Tuesday at 5:00 pm to go to the park with you and Rover” or “I’ll be by on Sunday at 6:00 pm with dinner”… and be sure to follow through.


  • Take on projects together. This can range from going with your friend to offer support during emotional tasks such as packing and sorting rooms in the deceased’s home; to finding tasks you can do together that requires both of your attention, such as gardening, or painting a room. By being present during the difficult tasks, and providing your friend with opportunities to do tasks that may help distract from their grief and you can help them through this difficult time. There are plenty of things to do together; you may just have to get a little creative.


Make sure to show up, express your love for your friend, and be an active presence in their life during this difficult time. Understand that while you can’t cure the sorrow in their life, you can help them as they begin to heal. Helping a friend navigate the emotional times that often come with losing someone we love can be difficult, but by being present and being a support, you can help them heal during this period in their lives. Feel free to call us at Striffler Family Funeral Homes if you have any questions.


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