When a close friend of yours is grieving after the loss of a loved one, you may find yourself struggling to find the right words to say. The grief process often brings intense pain and emotions to the bereaved. And the pain isn’t something that goes away after leaving the funeral parlour – everyone takes their own time to heal.

At times we simply don’t know how to comfort our grieving friend. Some people may be so afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing that they avoid doing anything altogether. While you can certainly care from afar, not reaching out could potentially cause your friend to feel even more isolated in their pain.

If you’re unsure of how to help a grieving friend, we’ve compiled five ways that you can show your support to them during this difficult time.

1. Offer practical support

Sometimes, the best support you can offer is not through verbal consolation, but by helping in small, simple ways. During this time, your grieving friend may find it difficult to even get out of bed in the morning. Everyday activities like grocery shopping or walking their dog may seem incredibly draining to them. They may also feel guilty about reaching out to others for assistance.

To ease their burden, give them a call and offer to help them carry out some of their daily errands. You’ll be surprised at how much relief this could give them while they work towards finding a sense of normalcy. These small acts of kindness are tangible evidence of your love and care for your friend.

2. Show that you’re there

The journey of grief is largely an internal, individual one. However, your friend may find comfort in knowing that you’re there. You don’t have to find extravagant ways to show your support. Instead, reach out to them and let them know that you’re available whenever they need someone. Some of the things you can do include: 

  • Be available when they call on you.
  • Offer to spend some time with them – even if you’re just offering your presence.
  • Check on them regularly. 

3. Listen, don’t solve

If your friend feels like they’re able to open up to you about their feelings, let them speak. It may be instinctive to offer solutions in hopes of helping your friend to cope better, but it isn’t likely to do so. While we try to give our words of comfort, there’s nothing that can make the situation any better. Instead, focus on being a listening ear and giving your friend a safe space for them to express their feelings.

4. Acknowledge their pain

When your friend is talking about their pain, be there to embrace it with them rather than trying to take a positive spin on it. Although it may feel uncomfortable to agree that things aren’t great at the moment, your friend may take comfort in knowing that you’re there by their side. Trying to force out positives from the situation may make your friend feel like they aren’t being heard.

That being said, your friend may also want a distraction from their grief. If that’s the case, keep things light and talk about something to take their mind away from the negativity. You know your friend best, so it’s crucial to read their mood correctly and offer the support that they need at any given time.

5. Stay for the long haul

Finally, be there for your friend the entire length of the grieving period. Be there for those sad and uncomfortable moments during and after the funeral service. Continue to stay in touch and check on them periodically. Just because your friend may look fine on the outside, doesn’t mean the pain has gone away.

It’s also a sweet gesture to offer extra support on special days. Certain days may feel especially tough for your friend. Birthdays, anniversaries and holidays often awaken the sense of loss, so it’s important to be sensitive during these occasions. Support your friend through these bitter-sweet moments and let them know that you will always be there for them.