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Supporting a Friend Who is Grieving

Published: November 17, 2023

Check in to see what your friend is missing and where they need help.

Invest time. That’s the best way to understand where your friend really needs help. It’s hard for a person muddling through grief to come up with an answer to the well-intentioned question, “What can I do to help?” However, if you are regularly in touch and listen, you will most likely get an idea of where you might be able to lend a hand.

Ask questions like, “What if I did _____? Would that help?” A question that presents an idea and then puts forward the ask may lead to better results than a question like, “What can I do to help?” Asking, “How can I help?” requires the mourner to come up with an action. “What can I do to help?” seems logical and straightforward on the face of it, but when someone is struggling and overwhelmed, it can be really hard to figure out what would be helpful. So, you often hear an answer like, “Oh, I’m ok.”

Stay in close contact. Your grieving friend is more likely to talk to you casually about how their days are going. You’ll hear where they are struggling or avoiding doing something that is just too difficult to tackle alone. Look for ways to share time with your friend, and let what they need just bubble to the surface naturally. 

Find ways to spend time together, even doing everyday tasks. Share a walk or another form of exercise you both enjoy. Work together on a hobby or interest you share. Take your friend out for coffee. Invite your friend over for lunch or dinner. Take them out to breakfast after church. Whatever it takes; just stay in touch. They’ll appreciate the company.

When you find a way to help, remember that you will need to help their way, not yours, even if you have experience with the task at hand. Pause and ask what is desired in order to be sure you understand what your friend wishes to accomplish. If their ask is unclear or seems like it is going in the wrong direction to you, be thoughtful in how you attempt a course correct.

Ask questions instead of telling. Be gentle. Let go of your way and do the task as they wish, even if it seems to you that your method would be easier. For those who are grieving, logic and simplicity may be out of reach. Once a grieving person has settled on a path, even if it is winding, it may be better to just go along unless the course they have settled on is truly unsound.

Vitt, Stermer & Anderson Funeral & Cremation Services has been serving the families of Cincinnati with respect and professionalism since 1899. They provide quality funeral, burial, cremation and memorial services as well as special services for veterans from their locations in Delhi and Cheviot. They also provide options to pre-plan and pre-pay for your final wishes in advance. Learn more at


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