Offer practical assistance

It is difficult for many grieving people to ask for help.  They might feel guilty about receiving so much attention, fear being a burden, or be too depressed to reach out.  You can make it easier for them by making specific suggestions – such as “I’m going to the market this afternoon.  What can I bring you from there?” or “I’ve made a beef stew for dinner.  When can I come by and bring you some?”

Consistency is very helpful, if you can manage it – being there for as long as it takes.  This helps the grieving person look forward to your attentiveness without having to make the additional effort of asking again and again.  You can convey an open invitation by saying “Let me know what I can do”, which may make a grieving person feel more comfortable about asking for help.  But keep in mind that a bereaved person may not have the energy or motivation to call you when they need something, so it’s better if you take the initiative to check in.

Be the one who take the initiative

There are many practical ways you can help a grieving person.  You can offer to:

  • Shop for groceries or run errands
  • Drop off a casserole or other type of food
  • Help with funeral arrangements
  • Stay in their home to take phone calls and receive guests
  • Help with insurance forms or bills
  • Take care of housework, such as cleaning or laundry
  • Watch their children or pick them up from school
  • Drive them wherever they need to go
  • Look after their pets
  • Go with them to a support group meeting
  • Accompany them on a walk
  • Take them to lunch or movie
  • Share an enjoyable activity (game, puzzle, art project)