How to Comfort Someone Who Is Grieving
23 Dec 2022
By Michael Jacobson
It’s an unfortunate guarantee that at some point someone you care about is going to experience a loss. Grief is a complicated process that is felt differently by everyone, and it can be daunting to attempt to give a grieving person comfort, even when you have experienced it for yourself.
We’ve compiled some helpful suggestions for comforting someone who is grieving. It’s important to note that no two people grieve the same way, so advice that may be appreciated by one person might not strike a chord with another. But so long as you’re approaching the situation with good intentions, your sympathy will come across regardless.
Listen, don’t talk
Where there is grief, there is often silence. It is easy to read this silence as uncomfortable and try to fill it on behalf of the grieving person, in order to relieve any awkward tension. Sometimes it feels easier to talk about literally anything other than the loss they have experienced. Instead of this being your first reaction, see if there is anything they would like to talk about:
- Ask them if they would like to talk about the deceased. Directly acknowledging their loss will let them share the memories that are probably already at the forefront of their mind, and show them you can be relied on for support.
- If they say no, ask them if they would like to talk about anything else instead. They may want to vent about a completely different topic, and you can provide them with that outlet.
- If they don’t want to talk at all right now, let them know that’s fine, and that you’re ready to listen whenever they feel like talking. They might even ask you to do all of the talking - in which case, go right ahead!
It is also useful to establish how they would like to stay in contact. Social media and the way it enables us to stay connected at all times can be good for people who are grieving. However, some people might prefer in-person conversations and the comfort of sharing physical space.
You may want to let the bereaved person know that you have been in a similar situation yourself, and share your experiences and coping mechanisms to let them know that they are not alone. Sometimes this can be helpful, but try to avoid centering the conversation on yourself. Always give them the opportunity to speak first, and practice active listening - put your phone away!
Loss of control is a stressful sensation often brought on by the death of a loved one. By listening to their needs and talking on their terms, you’re allowing the grieving person to exercise control over the situation and validate their feelings. Don’t let fear of saying the wrong thing prevent you from reaching out altogether - by choosing to initiate a conversation you’re already taking a big step towards comforting them.
Help them with chores
There are very real physical side effects that come with grief. As well as emotional distress, studies have shown that the physical repercussions of grief include headaches, fatigue, and digestive issues - even chest pain similar to that of a heart attack. When dealing with the toll grief is taking on their body, a grieving person may struggle to complete daily tasks.
Don’t be fooled by outward appearances - someone may seem very put together out of doors, but fall apart in the safety of their own home. There may be a number of chores they are finding difficult to stay on top of. Even activities that they previously enjoyed might require more energy than they’re able to give. This is an area where you could step in and help.
Ask the person who is grieving if there are any chores you can take care of for them, and give suggestions of what they could be - this takes the pressure off of them to provide an answer when they might not have the headspace to do so. Tasks might include helping with groceries, driving them to appointments, or giving them a hand with cleaning around the house. If you’re confident in the kitchen you could offer to do some cooking for them, so that keeping themselves fed is one less thing to worry about.
Grieving people often struggle to ask for help outright, and many find it difficult to accept help even when it’s offered. If your suggestions are rejected don’t take it personally, and don’t rescind your offers. Give them a little time and space, and try again. When someone’s life has been turned upside down by a loss, the best thing you can do for them is be steady and consistent.
It’s scientifically proven that flowers make you feel better
There is plenty of research available linking time spent in nature to improvements in health, both mental and physical. If the weather allows for it, why not ask the bereaved if they would like to join you on a hike, or a nature walk? If you happen to spot any wildflowers while walking then you’re in luck - flowers are known to stimulate the release of chemicals in the brain associated with happiness.
If you choose to gift a grieving person with sympathy flowers, you’re exposing them to potentially three mood-boosting chemicals - one of which also serves to solidify and deepen your bond. If you’re looking for an unintrusive way to say you’re sorry, flowers are a great way to acknowledge a loss without overwhelming the recipient. Writing a card to go with them also gives you a chance to think carefully about your initial condolence message.
The team at French Florist are honored to be able to bring comfort to those who are grieving, and take sympathy arrangements very seriously. Order by 2 pm, we can arrange for same-day local delivery across Los Angeles.