Watching someone you love walk through a loss is, in my opinion, one of the hardest things in the world to do. You wish with everything in you that you could help them, that you could bring the person back, that you could repair the loss.
But you just can’t.
Many people are scared away by someone’s grief. More than one of my friends have completely lost friendships because their friends were too scared of grief and just walked away. Truly, we don’t need to be scared away by someone’s grief, but we DO need to learn how to love them well through the grieving process.
I have lost enough in my young life to have learned how to grieve. (Read more here) But I have also walked through grief with loved ones enough to have learned some ways to love them well when they are grieving.
*Please note that most of these suggestions mention grieving a death, but there are lots of other losses in life that need properly grieved to heal. We can apply some of the same principles there as well.
9 Ways to Help Your Loved One Who’s Grieving
1. Be present
They may not even know how to ask or that they just need someone around. But sometimes just not being alone after a significant loss is a huge help. Literally, even if all you do is sit there with them while they cry, hold their hand, hug them, just BE there. Your presence alone can mean so much.
2. Help meet physical needs
There is a reason people take food over after someone experiences a loss. In the wake of tragedy, oftentimes people don’t think about meeting their own basic physical needs like food, water, fresh air. Do the dishes. Take out the trash. Feed their animals if they want you to. Mow the lawn, go grocery shopping etc… Just meeting really practical needs is a HUGE help.
Diffuse oils and put oils on them-I’ve never had someone refuse oils in the midst of grief. In fact, I’ve had lots of friends say “that helped” or “that just made me feel a little better. Can I have some more of that?” There is a VERY powerful connection between our emotions and our sense of smell. Young Living Essential Oils are an amazing way to help here
3. Intervene for them when they “just can’t”
There are a lot of questions to be answered and decisions that have to be made after a death. Yes, your friend will have to “pull it together” to do some of this, but offer them a safe place to hide away. If they REALLY just can’t handle one more visitor, its ok to kindly intervene on their behalf.
4. Do NOT try to offer explanations
Please, for the love of scripture, God did not “take them early”, He does not “need one more angel” nor does He “work in mysterious ways”. Yes, it may make you feel better to say something rather than nothing, but it’s not true. So, don’t speak just to fill the silence.
It is very possible that we may never know this side of heaven all that went on behind the spiritual veil. At some point this has to be ok. At some point, you may know why. But our hearts need time, space, and HEALING to get Heaven’s perspective.
For a really great sermon that touches on a few of these things, check out this message by Trey Johnson. The Preaching starts at about 29 minutes.
5. Pray for them
Don’t just say that you will. Actually pray for them. Pray WITH them.
2 Cor 1:3-4 TPT “The Holy Spirit is our comforter. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
6. Check up on them often- even a long time after the loss.
Ask them more pointed questions than “how are you.” Ask questions like, “how are you healing?” “how is your heart”
7. Don’t be afraid to talk openly about the person they lost
That person will forever be part of their story. And they should. Not talking about them doesn’t help, it just robs the grieving person of a healing opportunity
8. Strongly encourage them to get grief counseling
Probably not immediately after the loss, but going to a Bible believing therapist is SO helpful. So many people neglect this step and suffer for it.
9. Give them a safe place to grieve
People often say and do things in their grief that is well… just not like them. Offer them extra grace and mercy. Be a safe place to land when they just need someone to vent to or cry to.
In preparation for this blog, I wanted to ask
a few of my loved ones the question:
“Do you have any things that you remember people doing or saying that were particularly helpful or comforting during your grief process?”
Here are some of their answers. I pray this helps you as well.
“Just being there. Not talking…Just sitting with me and letting me pour out my heart.”-Lacene D
“When people specifically said, ‘I don’t understand how you’re feeling but I am here to listen and love on you’ it meant a lot. I really disliked when people would say, ‘I know how you feel’ or, ‘my grandpa died of cancer’ or, ‘I definitely understand’ because no one really knows. Every situation is different. I also appreciated people distracting me and taking me to movies or to get food. It’s helpful to get out and not get stuck in your own thoughts. Also, I appreciated people talking about the person we lost openly. Sometimes I felt like it was an avoided topic and I loved hearing stories about [them] that I didn’t know before.” Ashley W
“Mostly just people letting me know they were praying for us and they were available. Short and simple was the most helpful. We knew if we really needed anything, then we could reach out and didn’t have to worry about making other people feel like they were being helpful or anything like that.” Meghan G
“The things that helped the most were the people that DIDN’T hide THEIR grief. I truly felt that I could not let go because I needed to be strong for [others]…But it meant so much when people would come in, hold my hand and just cry. I KNEW how much everyone was hurting, how could I not? He was such a HUGE part of all of us…When people came in and were “cheery” it made me curious and even sadder. I know they thought they were protecting me, but it was better to let out the pain. It was like a giant elephant in the room. As we were able to cry together we all began to heal in very tiny steps.” -Kristina R
Steal this prayer for a loved one who is grieving:
Lord I thank you that You are the God of all comfort. You are not unfamiliar with our pain or our weaknesses. I ask you to comfort them with the comfort that only you can give. Surround them with people who will speak words of love and truth. Guard their ears against harmful or non-faith filled words. Give them your hope and your peace that passes all understanding. Show me what I can do and say to bless them and help them in this season. In Jesus Name, Amen.