How to Help a Grieving Family Member

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Loss and grief are an inevitable part of life, but it doesn’t make them any easier. While everybody navigates through the process differently, some people need a bit more time and support to cope. Since there is no right or wrong way to be supportive, there are several ways you can help a grieving family member.

Everybody’s Different

To properly support a grieving family member, keep in mind that everyone grieves differently. One of the biggest misconceptions is that the process is the same for every person. This is far from the truth, and while there are certain emotions and feelings you can expect a person to experience, they can take on different looks.

Before you reach out to your family member, make sure that it’s not a comparison issue. Don’t tell them, “Well, this is what worked for me, so this should work for you.” This is the wrong approach and can make the situation worse. Instead, go in with an open mind and be prepared. Your family member may be very silent and may say very little, or they could be experiencing a more extreme outpouring. In either case, be understanding of the fact that how they feel is valid. 

Simply Listen

Many people have a hard time helping a grieving family member because they think they have to say the right thing. They might take a lot of time to consider the most perfect, poignant expressions while trying to avoid triggers. Instead, you can help a grieving person the most by simply listening. It is highly effective for a person who needs somebody to vent to.

There’s no special way to do this – all you have to do is let the grieving know you’re available whenever they need to talk. When they do take you up on the offer, let them express themselves, without passing judgment or offering too much advice. Just listening with compassion lets the person know you are there for them in a meaningful way.

Visit the Resting Place

It’s never easy to say goodbye to a loved one, so after they are gone, it can be a big step to visit their resting place. You can help your grieving family member by accompanying them. In some cases, this can mean going to visit their gravesite. For those who have been cremated, it can be an intimate gathering around their custom urns. Even though the person is departed, gathering near them can make them feel present.

Proximity can be a serious part of the grieving process. This can also allow the person to communicate with the departed and express how they are feeling, as well as say some things they weren’t able to previously. Consequently, this can be a good idea for closure.

Helping Out

Sometimes when a person is grieving, it can be hard for them to handle their everyday tasks like cooking or cleaning. If that’s the case, you can offer to help them with these chores. It can involve anything from offering to clean their house, wash dishes, wash clothes, etc. You might even want to take them cooked meals for a few days. Having a clean home and a comforting meal can mean the world to a person who is feeling overwhelmed. 

Although taking care of these everyday activities might seem simple, it can be a lifesaver. Essentially, it ensures your loved one’s needs are being met without them being burdened by handling these tasks on their own. With their free time, the person can have the time and space they need to properly grieve. 

Take Them Out

Only after your family member is up to it, you can offer to take them out. Maybe taking a nice, long walk can be a pleasant break and be comforting. The walk in the fresh air can be reinvigorating and a chance for you two to unwind a bit. Since exercise is a great way to boost the mood, a yoga class can be a wonderful outlet. Meditation is another way that a grieving person can feel more centered with a renewed body, mind, and spirit.

Going out to a favorite restaurant and sharing stories and memories of a departed person is always a good option. Not only is the food nourishing to the soul but being out can be a change they need. A movie, a painting class, or a little pampering can all do wonders and can make a big impact as a person navigates through the grieving process.

Regardless of how you support your loved one, showing them that you are there can make all the difference. At times, it may seem like what you’re doing isn’t significant or isn’t helping, but it can be extremely comforting during your loved one’s time of need.


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