How to Help a Grieving Loved One

Grief hits every person differently. It can manifest itself in anger, isolation, depression, and many other unexpected emotions. As you support someone who has lost a loved one, it is important to know how to help them during this difficult time.

Our staff at St. Pierre Family Funeral know that when you try to console a friend or family member, it’s difficult to find the right words to say. Our neighbors in Indianapolis, Greenwood, and Pendleton share that when they know someone who has lost a loved one, they aren’t quite sure how to express their support. The fact is: We aren’t always supposed to know what to say.

When you think back to any experience with loss that you’ve had, you can probably recall the phrases, “They’re in a better place,” “I’m sorry for your loss,” or “What can I do to help?” While the intent behinds these types of statements always stem from a place of compassion, they rarely convey this exact message to the person who is grieving.

So, what are you supposed to say? How are you supposed to help your grieving friends, family, or community members?

Your main goal is to show them that you care. Words and kind messages will always be appreciated but taking the extra step of actually helping them speaks volumes. For example, you could drop off dinner, take their kids to school, or help with errands. Find out what their biggest needs are and see how you can step up to help.

You don’t have to do anything extravagant. Even the simplest act of service will show your loved one that you care. Specific, tangible actions you can take to help the grieving individual lighten their daily stressors will give them the time and space they need to work through their feelings.

When speaking with someone who is grieving, make sure validate their feelings. Rather than saying, “He’s in a better place,” say something like, “I know how much he meant to you, and I’m sure that you miss him.” Grief is a natural and normal part of loss. People want to hold tight to the memories and positive times that they had with their loved ones. Bring up the fond memories that you have about the person who died and let the grieving person find joy in sharing their own anecdotes.

However, some people might not want to talk about losing their loved one – maybe for a long time – and that is OK too. Everyone deals with loss on a different timeline, but grief is not a journey that anyone should have to travel alone. Being there for someone you care about through all the ups and downs is not easy, but hopefully, these tips will help you become better equipped to help others when they need you the most.

If an individual seems to be experiencing long periods of isolation, depression, or other at-risk behaviors, please reach out for help. Our caring team at St. Pierre Family Funeral can connect you with local grief resources, counselors, and ministers. If you believe that someone is in immediate danger or could harm themselves, do not hesitate to call 911.