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How to Talk to a Grieving Friend

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Published 20/03/2023
by Laura Clipson
When someone we love is grieving, it can be difficult to know how to talk to them about their loss and the subsequent grief they may be feeling because of it. Some people may try to make the grieving person feel better with well-meaning words of advice and comparisons of their own experiences with grief, but this can sometimes make them feel worse. Others simply do not acknowledge the passing, as they are unsure what to say.

Here are some ways you can speak to a grieving friend or loved one.

Express condolences
It sounds simple, but just acknowledging their grief by saying “I’m sorry for your loss” lets the bereaved know that you’re there for them and are thinking of them. Expressing your sympathy in this way can also help to start a conversation with the bereaved, especially if you’re unsure what to say.

Share your memories
If you have any memories of the person who has passed away, share these with the bereaved to acknowledge their absence and the hole they’ve left behind. If you didn’t know the deceased, encourage your friend to share their memories with you. This can be a cathartic experience, and helps the bereaved to focus on happy memories rather than dwelling on the loss of their loved one.

Have a conversation
Simply asking “How are you doing?” lets the bereaved know you’re thinking about them and gives them an opportunity to be honest and speak about their grief, if they want to. It’s important to acknowledge their feelings and their grief, and it’ll be a comfort to them to know you’re there for them and willing to talk.

Sometimes you don’t need to talk at all - just having you there willing to listen can be a big help. The bereaved may want to talk about the events leading up to the death, their memories of the person who has passed away, or even something completely different to take their mind off things. It will mean a lot that you’re there for them.

Offer help
Ask if there’s anything you can do to help. Grief can be a difficult time, so offering to help with chores, shopping, cooking or funeral arrangements can be a big help to someone who is grieving. It gives them less things to worry about, and lets them know you’re there for them however they need you to be.

The best thing to do when speaking to a grieving friend is to be honest. If you’re not sure what to say to them, then tell them that’s how you feel. It’s better than not saying anything at all, and it’s something they’ll probably be able to understand. Make sure to take your cue from them, and don’t try to push them into talking about something they’re not comfortable with. Some people simply do not like to talk about their grief.

If you’re still unsure of what to say, why not have a look at our blog on gifts to give a grieving friend, and express your feelings through giving instead.

Thank you for reading.

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