Disclosure: This post was submitted on behalf of PennyMindingMom.com.
“I’m sorry for your loss.” “My sympathies.” “My condolences.”
These polished phrases might be the first things that come to mind when a family member is struggling with loss. But no matter how sincere you are, these phrases can come across as shallow.
Do you wonder how to help someone with grief — without making things worse?
Even if you have the best of intentions, you can still say things that are hurtful, minimizing, or unhelpful without even realizing it. There’s a lot of pressure when taking on a supportive role to a grieving family member.
Here’s a guide on how to navigate that conversation and support someone suffering from grief within your family.
1. Listen More Than You Talk
When addressing someone who’s grieving, listening is the most important thing you can do.
Encourage your family members to talk about the deceased and how they’ve been feeling in the following weeks. Listen with genuine interest and always center them and their experience in the conversation.
Being a good listener shows your loved one that they don’t have to go through this alone.
2. Give Them a Gift
Even something as small as sending flowers can be a thoughtful gift to show your loved one that you care and that you’re thinking of them.
But if you get the sense that a lot of people send flowers, it might be time to think out of the box.
Here are a few ideas to start out:
- Home-cooked meals
- Memorials or remembrance items
- Thoughtful cards
- Practical household items
- Care box with self-care items
For those struggling with the loss of a beloved family pet, take a look at some appropriate pet loss gifts to help them cope.
3. Share Memories
If you knew the deceased in person, go ahead and share your favourite photos and stories about them in-person, by email, or on social media. This signals to your family member that the deceased was an active part of your personal and emotional life—and that you remember them fondly.
If you didn’t know the deceased well enough, ask to hear a story about them while you’re meeting in-person. This shows that you care about the deceased and that their memories still deserve to be circulated.
4. Check-in Weeks Later
Supporting your friend is more about just being there during the aftermath of the loss. You need to be there for the long term.
Your loved one needs you the most once things start to move on and the support starts to dwindle. Check-in whenever you can—even weeks or months later.
How to Help Someone With Grief
When you think about how to help someone with grief, it might feel overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be.
Instead of offering timid support or stumbling through uncomfortable conversations, try to see this as a chance for you to step in during one of the hardest times of your family member’s life and take some of the burdens off their shoulders.
With these tips in mind, you can navigate even the most challenging of conversations and stand by your family—even when things get tough.
Looking for more tips to improve your personal and family life? Check out our home and family section for more content!