How to Make a Friend Feel Better After a Death

Three Methods:Be Aware of the Grieving ProcessWhat to Say to A Friend Who is GrievingHelp a Bereaved Friend

No one can take away the pain or sadness of a friend who has suffered the death of a friend or family member. Grief is an intense and powerful emotion, causing discomfort to the bereaved and their friends. You may feel awkward or worry that you don't know what to say to your bereaved friend. However, you can help your friend through the grieving process with compassion, understanding and kindness.

Method 1
Be Aware of the Grieving Process

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    Have patience. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, and it may take months or years for a friend to process their grief.
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    Reassure your friend that it is acceptable for them to feel anger, guilt, fear, depression and remorse. The grieving process may be a roller coaster ride of emotions- 1 day your friend may not have the will power to get out of bed, and the next day, they may be yelling, screaming or even laughing.
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    Reach out to your grieving friend. Sometimes, bereaved individuals feel isolated and alone. You don't have to have all the answers. In fact, sometimes just listening or providing a hug will support a grieving friend.

Method 2
What to Say to A Friend Who is Grieving

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    Acknowledge the death. You can help a grieving friend by not being afraid to use the word death. Trying to soften the situation by saying something like, "I heard you lost your husband," may make them angry. Their husband is not lost. He is dead.
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    Let your friend know that you care. Be open and honest when you communicate with a grieving friend. "Sorry" is a good word in this situation.
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    Offer your assistance. It's OK to tell your grieving friend that you don't know what to do, but would like to help in any way. They may ask you to help them sort through photos, go grocery shopping, or help them mow the lawn.

Method 3
Help a Bereaved Friend

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    Take the lead and offer to assist a bereaved friend, or just show up ready to work.
    • Deliver food to your bereaved friend. Often, the newly bereaved forget to eat, and bringing them a favorite snack or meal from a restaurant they enjoy will ensure they receive adequate nourishment.
    • Help with the funeral arrangements. If your friend has never experienced death, they won't know how to prepare for a funeral. You can help a bereaved friend by offering to write the obituary, help them find a church or hall for the memorial, and assist them in finding someone to speak at the service.
    • Clean your grieving friend's house. They may be in a state of shock and may not be capable of doing their normal household chores. Often, family and friends from out of town will be coming to stay with them for the funeral, and cleaning the house for them will be beneficial.
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    Continue to provide support after the funeral. Grief takes time, and you can help a bereaved friend by keeping in touch with them after the memorial. Call them on the phone, take them out to lunch, and talk about the person that died.
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    Keep an eye out for signs of severe depression. It's normal for a grieving friend to feel depressed, but if they can't get to school or work, have troubling sleeping, can't eat or eat all the time, they may need extra help.
    • The grieving process varies from person to person. If your grieving friend does not seem to be getting better with time or talks about suicide, you may need to intervene.
    • Offer to take your friend to a grief group or talk to them about scheduling an appointment with their family doctor if they focus only on death, have hallucinations, or can't perform their normal daily routines.


  • Don't tell a bereaved person you know how they feel unless you have experienced a similar situation.
  • Don't say the person who died is in a better place. Your grieving friend might not believe this, and may think the best place the deceased could be would be alive.
  • Never tell a bereaved friend to hurry up and get over it. This will make them feel like they should be over their grief, or make them angry. Grief has its own timeline.
  • Keep in mind that different people react to the death of a loved one differently. It's not okay to never talk about the deceased person but it's not good to ONLY want to talk about them.
  • Don't leave your friend alone nor stick to them all the time. They need some space.
  • Give your friend a hug and tell them you are sorry for their loss.
  • Don't pressure them into talking about it. Let them go at their own pace and if they do eventually want to talk about it then be ready to listen. Often people that are grieving are afraid that it will happen to someone else close to them, so just be a good friend; give them a hug and some advice when they ask for some.
  • Make a card that says encouraging things that can help your friend get through this hard time in their life.

Article Info

Categories: Supporting Friends