How to help others in grief?

A man helping a lady with her grief.
Perhaps the majority of us will sometime during our lifetime meet persons who are greatly distressed and need our help. So, what can you say or do that will help them? When friends suffer injury or bereavement, you often want desperately to console them, but do you know how?"

Some persons fall short of the mark when it comes to offering true comfort to mourners.

Embarrassed and uncomfortable in the face of deep sorrow or death, they often do not know just what to say or do.

However, knowing just what to do when faced with this problem can make you become a great help to those in grief. What can you do?

Make your presence felt

In order to be the greatest service to grief-stricken ones, one must be able to share his or her sorrow.

This is not hard as many people think. If you are normally compassionate, then just be yourself. Your presence will be felt and appreciated.

However, putting deep feelings into words is not easy for some people. Often they do not know what to say and so may say very little.

But this is not as objectionable as you may think. Some of truest sympathy is conveyed through a warm handclasp or embrace.

If the bereaved wants to talk of their loss, let them. In fact, encourage them to do so.

As they speak, your timidity will disappear and you will be able to offer words of comfort. Sometimes it is not what is said that counts as much as one’s being present with the bereaved.

Be understanding

A person with a heavy heart may be in no position to appreciate efforts at cheering them up with humor.

Often a warm handclasp along with a word or two of encouragement is all that is needed.

Cheerfulness may be misunderstood. The bereaved may feel that the comforter is not aware of the depth of his or her distress. So be understanding.

Remember for you to share the sorrow of others, you must give a portion of yourself. This might even involve giving away to tears.

When tears are shed in sincerity, this lets the bereaved know that there are others who deeply feel the loss too. Tears show not only feelings but as well as understanding.

Even though you may not be able to give away to tears, you can show understanding by not looking frightened or embarrassed by their tears.

But by sitting with them and quietly talking to them in a compassionate manner you can give them the strength they need.

However, there times when the grief stricken person wants to be alone and should be left alone, but a good friend can usually distinguish between the genuine need and a kind of withdrawal brought on by depression.

For some there is a tendency to want to shut the heart to others when deep injury to the spirit has been sustained.

But there are times when friends must invade this area to help them, especially when they sense their mental health is at risk, such as when they notice that the grieving person is having suicidal feelings.

Using sympathy cards, messages and letter of sympathy

Today, with busy schedules facing so many people, more and more persons go to the store and buy sympathy cards.

Sympathy cards and letters of sympathy are indeed proper ways to express your sorrow and sympathy.

Every manifestation of interest, every visit, every card, every letter and every phone call can help a grieving mourner.

It tells them that someone cared enough to break the stride of his or her own daily schedule long enough to express concern.

In addition to sending commercial cards or messages, you may want to add some few words of your own. But what can you say in a card or letter?

Simply put down on paper the loving thoughts that moved to write.

A few words in your own handwriting, expressed in your way, will likely carry more weight and meaning than all the beautiful commercial phrases in the world.

They are your words, your thoughts and that is what counts.

For example, one family receive note saying,

I can't put things fancy, but I just wanted to say that your father was my best friend and every child in the school looked up to him.” 

The family cherished that letter above all the other cards and commercial notes that they received. Why? Because it was the person’s very own words, written from the warmth of his heart.

Continued help

True consolation cannot be limited to a few days. It often needs to extend over a period of time until the bereaved has fully recovered from his loss.

However, usually the bereaved person is usually surrounded by friends and cushioned by every comfort that can be provided at first. But what happens a few weeks later after the burial?

The anesthetic of ones initial shock has worn off. The sad tasks that kept one busy are all accomplished and friends drift off to their own concerns.

One is therefore left alone too soon. So how can you show your continued thoughtfulness to a person who is bereaved?

Some well-placed phone call, invitation to dinner, an occasional visit, can be very helpful months after the shock of the tragedy has worn off.

You can also include the bereaved one in you activities. For example, taking them on trips or inviting them over when entertaining others, and so forth.

Such expressions never fail to have a healing effect on the bereaved. Their surprising effect is delightful.

Anyone who has ever mourned can vouch for the lasting impact of such thoughtful gestures in the lonely weeks and months that follow the initial flurry of attention callers.


Therefore, you should be naturally moved at times of sorrow to manifest concern for those in grief. It is right and proper. It will help sustain them during this dark and troublesome period of grief.

Do not limit yourself to a simple call or card, but have a steady interest and care born of love, until the griever finds strength to return to the normal function of life again.