Losing a loved one is one of life’s most devastating challenges. Sometimes, there is nothing a grieving person needs more than the reassuring voice of someone who has been down this path before.

By Joanne Fink

Below are a few ways you can support someone who may be going through the grieving process.

1. Understand that you can’t fix this. There isn’t anything you can say or do to bring the person who died back. All you can do is accompany your loved one on their grief journey.

2. Reach out and continue to reach out. The grieving process takes a LOT longer than you can possibly imagine if you haven’t gone through it. Don’t expect someone to ‘get over it’ in a few weeks or months.

3. Listen. Part of the grieving process involves telling the story of how your loved one died… and then telling the story of how they lived.

4. Don’t worry about finding ‘the right words’. Simply saying “I’m so sorry for your loss” and giving a hug can bring great comfort.

5. Don’t be afraid to mention the name of the person who died. Creating a safe space to talk about their loved one won’t upset someone who is bereaved. Sharing stories and photographs can help them keep the legacy of their loved one alive.

6. Provide practical assistance. Don’t say ‘call me if you need anything’… people who are grieving are often disoriented and have trouble remembering things. They may not even remember that you offered to help, and even if they do remember, they probably won’t want to impose on you. Instead, call and say “I’m on my way to the supermarket and am bringing you bread, eggs and milk– what else do you need?”

7. Firsts are REALLY hard! Doing something for the first time without your loved one is incredibly difficult. Whether its going back to work, going on a trip or going to a party, it can help to have someone recognize and acknowledge these firsts. If you are making a holiday dinner, invite the person who is grieving. They may leave early, or choose not to come, but knowing someone cares enough to reach out to you means a lot.

8. Remember special dates: Birthdays (both of the person who died and the person you are supporting) and anniversaries are milestones on your grief journey. Put these dates– and the date of death– in your calendar so you can call, text, or send a card. It will make more of a difference than you can possibly imagine.

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