Helping a Bereaved Friend When You Can’t Be There in Person

Sadly, due to the current lockdown restrictions, many of us are unable to ‘be there’ for a bereaved friend or family member in person. 

Grief can be incredibly lonely and isolating. So, it’s important that people know that they are not alone, and that someone is there for them.

You might like to read our recent post ‘Understanding Mourning, Grief And Bereavement’ to learn a bit more about the grieving process, including some helpful dos and don’ts when someone is grieving.  

Here are a few ways you can show support to someone who is grieving, even if you can’t be with them in person…

Pick up the phone

woman phoning a bereaved friend

While you might not be able to visit with them in person, you can still be there for them. Picking up the phone is a simple way to let them know that you’re there. 

They might not want to talk for long, or at all. But that’s okay. You can still let them know you’re free to talk and maybe let them know you’ll try again another time. 

Your job here is to listen to them, let them say what they need to and allow them to express their grief in whatever way they need. Everyone grieves differently. 

Try and leave plenty of time in case they have a lot to say, you don’t want to cut them off if you have to suddenly get back to work. And avoid telling them any cliches such as ‘time heals’ or ‘at least they’re in a better place’. Just listen and respect their grieving process. 

It might be hard to try and comfort someone over the phone. But, they’ll definitely appreciate you making the effort. 

Send a care package

Another great way to show someone who is recently bereaved some support is to send a grief care package. It doesn’t have to be expensive. You can just include a few small things that might help them cope in the early days.

Your care package could include practical things, such as groceries and toiletries. Or, it could be a self care package containing some candles, a blanket, bath bombs, etc. You could even consider sending something a little more sentimental, like photos of the deceased. 

If they have young children, be sure to include something for them, such as a small toy, books or colouring. 

This is a great option if you are worried about overwhelming the person, but still want to show them you care. 

Write a letter

writing a letter to a grieving person

Writing a letter is a wonderful way to express your feelings, especially if you struggle to do so in person. Most people love receiving letters, as it shows them the sender has taken the time to think about them and made that little extra effort. 

You might like to share some of your memories of the person who has died. Often, people are afraid to talk about the deceased, which can only deepen grief, if the bereaved person wants to talk about them. They will appreciate reading others’ memories of their loved one.

A letter allows the person time to process their feelings. Unlike a text or a call, they don’t feel the pressure to pick up or respond straight away. They can take their time and respond when they are ready. 

Socially distanced visit

Restrictions have recently been reduced, allowing people to meet another person from a different household, provided they stay two metres apart. Perhaps you could suggest meeting the person for a walk somewhere near their home. Or, you could simply stop by and wave through the window if the person is vulnerable.

A simple gesture such as this lets them know that you’re thinking of them. If they live alone, this time will be especially hard. And a friendly face could make all the difference.

If you do visit, make sure you strictly observe the social distancing rules, however. Stay two metres apart and do not touch. Make sure you continue to wash your hands thoroughly. 

Offer practical help

delivering grocery shopping

A more practical way to show your support is to offer help with tasks that might need doing. With grief, it can sometimes be hard even to get out of bed in the morning, let alone run errands or cook for yourself. Here are a few suggestions of practical support you can offer.

  • Cook meals (preferably ones that can easily be reheated)
  • Pick up shopping and essentials
  • Pick up prescriptions
  • Tidy their front garden
  • Walk their dog
  • Gift a subscription service (entertainment, food, self-care, etc.)

You can always tell them ‘let me know if you need anything’. However, many people won’t reach out. It is generally better to offer and let them choose to accept your help or not. 

Remember to always observe social distancing when offering any practical support.

How could you help someone who is grieving today?

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