Article: How to Support a Friend Who is Grieving

*originally ran in the September 2019 Times Colonist ’55+’ section*

When a friend or loved one is grieving, it can impact many aspects of their life. It may be hard to know how to offer help and support. Bereavement counselors at Victoria Hospice offer this advice:

Do spend time with the grieving person.

Loneliness is a major aspect of grief for many people, and asking for company can be difficult. Offer to drop in for brief visits or accompany them on an errand or to an appointment.

Do invite the person to talk about the person who died.

Talking doesn’t cause more grief; it’s there all the time. Being able to remember and reminisce with someone can help the grieving person adjust to their loss. Ask questions, be interested.

Do make concrete offers to help.

“Can I walk your dog for you this week?” is better than, “Call me if you need anything,” as thinking about what needs to be done and who to call is often overwhelming for grieving people.

Do share your stories and memories.

Grieving people may get the feeling that you don’t care or think about their loved one if you never speak about him/her. Share a funny story or a life lesson you learned from the person who died.

Don’t minimize or avoid their grief.

Trying to distract the grieving person or convince them of how great life is, will only make them feel even more alone. Encourage them to tell you how it really is and simply listen.

Don’t take it personally.

There may be times when a grieving person doesn’t want to see you, or to talk about their loss. Let them know you’re okay with that, and ask if you can check in at another time.

Don’t think, “They should be over this by now.”

Grief is permanent. Although the intensity of grief lessens over time for most people, there will always be special days and dates when the loss is felt more deeply. Make contact during those times.

Need more support?

The bereavement team at Victoria Hospice are ready to help as you learn to live with loss. Bereavement Services are available to anyone in the community; no prior connection to Victoria Hospice is required. Services include telephone support; in-person counselling; a variety of bereavement support groups, including drop-in and journal groups; information and education; and referrals where appropriate. Call 250-519-3040 for more info.

Bereavement Drop-in Groups

Pre-registration and confirmation required, please call 250-519-3040. Drop in groups run on days listed below, except for stat holidays.

Greater Victoria: Every Tuesday
WestShore: Last Thursday of each month