How to Help Someone Who is Grieving

November 16, 2023
Keimishia Holloway, MSN, PMHNP

Dealing with grief is challenging. It occurs in unpredictable waves. It's possible to feel like you're doing fine, and then suddenly feel overwhelmed with sadness. As a friend, it might be challenging to understand what your grieving friend/family needs right now and how you can best help. Here are some suggestions that may help ease some of the worry and uncertainty associated with learning how to support people who are grieving.

1. Be present and available:

Let the person know that you are there for them and willing to listen whenever they need to talk. Offer your support and reassure them that they are not alone.

2. Listen actively:

When the person wants to talk, be a good listener. Allow them to express their feelings and emotions without judgment or interruption. Avoid giving advice unless they specifically ask for it.

3. Offer practical assistance:

Grief can be overwhelming, and everyday tasks can become difficult for someone who is grieving. Offer specific help, such as cooking meals, running errands, or taking care of their children/pets.

4. Respect their grieving process:

Understand that grief is a personal journey, and everyone experiences it differently. Respect their way of grieving, even if it seems difficult form your own or from societal experiences.

5. Avoid cliches or minimizing their pain:

Phrases like “Time heals all wounds” or “they are in a better place” may not be helpful and dismiss the person’s pain. Instead, offer genuine empathy and understanding.

6.  Be patient and nonjudgement:

Grief is a complex process, and it takes time. Allow the person to grieve at their own pace and avoid placing expectations or timelines on their healing.

7. Stay connected:

Check in with the person regularly, even after the initial period of grief has passed. Grief can be a long-term process, and ongoing support and connect are important.

Keep in mind that there is no one right way to deal with grief and that what helps one person may not help another. Being there for the person, supporting them, and showing that you care is what matters most.

Thank you!

Keimishia Holloway, MSN, PMHNP


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