How to Be There for Someone Who Has Lost a Loved One
It is not always simple knowing how to provide comfort to someone who has lost a loved one. Sometimes you don’t know what to say or what to do to offer support, but reach out anyway. The person who is dealing with someone they cared about passing on may be feeling empty, lost, and alone, for that reason they will appreciate you caring about them and being there for them. Here are some suggestions to offer comfort and assistance...
1. Contact the grieving person by phone or visit them in person to offer your condolences.
2. Offer them a hug, hold their hand, or any form of physical contact you both are comfortable with. You could also just sit next to them and keep providing tissue if they are crying. Sometimes you do not need to say or do anything, but just physically be there, your presence may provide the comfort they need at that moment.
3. Instead of saying you are here for them if they need you, just actually do something. They may not know what they need and won’t want to burden you when they do need something.
4. Bring over food, disposable eating utensils, paper towels, toilet tissue, and tissue. This is for anyone who lives in the house and for people visiting to provide emotional support; the bereaved person does not need to be concerned with being a host.
5. Cook, clean, or run errands for them.
6. Volunteer to do specific activities to help with planning the funeral or celebration of life. Could be contacting people inviting them to the funeral, acquiring a caterer, making a tribute video, being an usher the day of the service, etc.
7. Help setup a fundraising drive to cover funeral/celebration of life costs or contribute to the fund.
8. Even if you know what they are going through this is their own personal event they have to face, do not offer unsolicited similar experiences. If they ask you questions, then have that conversation.
9. Do not tell them, “It was their time” or “S/He is in a better place”. Those words offer no relief.
10. Do not ask anyone, “How close they were to the deceased” or any questions that resemble the kind of relationship they had. It does not matter if the last time someone spoke to the person was months ago or the last time they saw each other was a year ago, people can still care for someone no matter the time that has passed in staying in communication.
11. Keep in touch with the bereaved person on a regular basis. After the funeral/celebration of life, they will still need emotional support. Make sure you’re being there just enough, but not pestering. If they celebrate holidays, definitely make it a point to reach out during those times as well.
12. If the person is suffering from physical loneliness, offer to spend the night or a couple nights and watch movies or play games. Do activities they will enjoy.
13. Be understanding to the different emotions they will experience and do not take the moments of them being angry and unkind to you personally.
14. Allow the person to heal in their own time. Everyone handles death differently and they don’t need an expiration date for mourning. Even when it appears as though they are getting back to their regular routine, they may still be hurting. Respect their process.
Extra Note: Share with your loved ones how you care about them right now. It’s great to hear people sharing stories at the funeral/celebration of life of all of the wonderful ways the deceased person has positively affected their lives, but they would have loved to have heard those words while still living.