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Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia  

The purpose of this section is to help you help your grieving friend. Listening to your friend is the greatest gift you have to offer. You may not always know what to say to your grieving friend, but you can do many supportive things to help someone dear through the journey of grief. Please start today.

Some of the following ideas are my own; some are borrowed from Alan Wolfelt's book. For more practical ideas on helping someone you love through grief, refer to Books for Helping Others.

Ten Things You Can Do To Help A Grieving Friend

1. Invite your friend on a weekly walk, outdoors if the weather permits, or at the local mall. Your friend is hurting right now. Please don't ignore the loss.

2. Give a comfort package: Fill a pretty basket with rich bath soaps, gels, or oils, sea sponges, candles, incense, tea, a CD of soft music and a plush towel. Include a handwritten note of caring and support.

3. Send a card, and another and another. After the funeral, people go back to their own lives. Let your friend know that you are thinking of him or her over the long haul by sending a thoughtful card every month for the next year.

Pay special attention to anniversaries, holidays, birthdays and other significant dates related to the deceased loved one. Don't ignore the loss. Thinking of you cards work well, but beautiful blank cards with your handwritten note inside are more personal. Please avoid syrupy-sweet cards that can come across as insincere.

4. Take a drive. Select a scenic spot an hour or two away and drive there with your friend. It could be a public farm, community garden, park, river walk or beach. Pack a picnic lunch. Bring a camera because getting in touch with the beauty of the world can be very healing. Print the pictures and give them to your friend. Frame one, put the whole set in a pretty scrapbook or create a CD for your friend. Short on time or need a little inspiration? Shutterfly.com can help. 
5. Invite your friend to your home for an afternoon or evening. Rent a movie and have take-out food. Allow the conversation to go where it needs to go.

6. Grief drains people of energy making activities of daily living very difficult. Call your grieving friend and ask what you can pick up for them at the store today. Offer to take the dog for a walk, replace the kitty litter, clean the house, change the bed linens, run the dishwasher, take out the trash, or do the laundry. NOTE: Do only the basics. Cleaning out the closets, rearranging the furniture, or moving items that belonged to the deceased loved one are intrusive and will likely be resented.

7. Be a handy person. Consider the seasons as you offer simple services: wash windows in the spring, cut grass in the summer, rake leaves in the fall, shovel snow in the winter, or change the furnace filter.

8. Grief needs to be expressed outwardly for healing to occur. If your friend likes to write, buy a beautiful blank journal, gift wrap it and drop it off, or mail it. Begin the journal by writing a supportive note on the first page.

9. Simplify your friend's life. What tasks are overwhelming to your friend right now? Cook a few meals for the freezer, offer to help write thank you notes for the gifts of food and flowers at the time of the death, pick up the kids from school, stop by the dry cleaners, or shop for groceries. In short, run errands because your friend doesn't have the concentration or energy to do so.

10. Leave your friend alone--for a while. Sometimes the best way to help a grieving friend is to leave him alone because mourning requires a natural turning inward. Be sure to tell your friend you would like to spend time with him when he is ready. Keep sending cards, E-mails or texts, but don't be hurt if he ignores you or declines all offers. Instead, offer your support again in a week or two. Keep offering. Please don't give up on your grieving friend.

You are not abandoning your friend when you provide the alone time needed to heal. Use the space to read about grief. Or, just for today, set aside the worries of your friend and enjoy your life. You'll have much more to offer when the timing is right.
Not many people want, or are able, to enter into another person's pain and suffering. Compassion for our fellow travelers is in short supply. Congratulate yourself for being willing to accompany someone dear on one of life's most difficult journeys.

Note: The English language does not provide me with a pronoun meaning he or she. I have chosen the masculine pronoun for clarity of writing. My apologies to the ladies reading this. 


Sources for Helping Others:

Wolfelt, Alan D. Healing a Friend's Grieving Heart: 100 Practical Ideas for Helping Someone You Love Through Loss. Fort Collins, CO: Companion Press, 2001, pages 13-15.

Wray, T.J., Surviving the Death of a Sibling: Living Through Grief When an Adult Brother or Sister Dies. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003, pages 78-88. 



Go to next page: Taking Care of You

The Grieving Heart is getting a new home...
Grief has no timetable, but the launch of a new website does: August 1, 2019.                                                                     
The updated design will be easy to use, secure and mobile-friendly.
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Christine (at) The Grieving Heart (dot) info 

A Word About E-mail: One way to decrease SPAM caused by Internet bots is to deactivate the live address link. You can still contact me by typing this address into your own e-mail program using @, a period, and no spaces, the standard e-mail format. Thank you.

Note to Visitors:
I read and respond to grief email at the end of each month when I update this site. If you need a more timely response, please visit a well moderated grief healing discussion group. It is free to use and requires registration to participate. I am not part of this group, but certified grief counselors are there to help, support and comfort grievers and those who love them. Because the counselors lost funding for the site, they are grateful for voluntary donations.
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How complicated and individual mending is,
the time required for healing
cannot be measured against any fixed calendar
Mary Jane Moffat
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