When a loved one is grieving, it can be difficult to know what to say or do. Although you can’t take away your loved one’s pain, you may be able to help them on their journey to healing.

Nourish the Soul

Think about your loved one and what would bring them the most comfort. Perhaps it’s soothing food like soup, a favorite casserole, or dessert. A plant or flowers can add cheer to the room. In times of grief, it’s often hard to articulate physical and tangible needs. Be mindful of what your loved one may need and make plans to bring that. Comforting a loved one doesn’t have to be anything elaborate and sometimes just sitting with your loved one is enough. Simple, thoughtful gestures can console and bring comfort. 

Be the messenger

Repeatedly conveying the service and event details to friends and family can be emotionally draining for a family. Ask if you can help by sharing the event details with those who need to know. 

Allow space for grief 

Grieving is a process that takes time, and it can be hard work. Be patient with your loved one. There is no set timetable for grief, and everybody grieves differently. Do not make assumptions about how, when, and how much to grieve. Each individual has their own journey and it may be different from what you experienced or expected. Allow your loved one the space to cry or talk about the one they lost. This may help to relieve their stress, and can be therapeutic and cathartic as well. If you feel a loved one needs to talk with a professional, don’t be afraid to suggest it.  


When somebody is sad, it is natural to want to offer advice to make them feel better. However, listening to your loved one gives that person an opportunity to process their emotions. Listen to understand, and give the person time to share instead of wanting to respond at the smallest opportunity. Through the art of listening, we can discover what help a loved one may truly need in order to heal. 

Show compassion 

Every story of loss is unique. Whether you have lost a friend, parent, grandparent or anyone else close to you, comparison will not help your loved one through their experience. It’s important to show respect for each person’s unique journey. Showing compassion can take the form of active listening, gentle words, or an act of kindness.

Special considerations for children and teenagers

Visit the article, Supporting Children and Teenagers During a Loss, for ways to support a grieving child or teen at each stage of development.

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