When someone has experienced the death of a loved one, family members and friends can be instrumental in easing the grief. It can be difficult to know what to say or do, but by saying or doing nothing, it is difficult for the grieving individual to know that you care.

Below are some tips that you might find useful.

  • Be there for them with a compassionate ear. Sometimes the best thing you can do is just listen.
  • Rather than offering for them to call, pick up the phone and contact them first.
  • Try not to fall into clichés such as ‘she lived a good innings’ or ‘all things happen for a reason.
  • Let them know that you are sorry for their loss, and if they feel like reminiscing about their loved one, let them talk.
  • Give them time. Every person deals with grief differently – there are no timeframes.
  • Try not to ignore the bereaved because you don’t know what to say or do. This can make them feel isolated.
  • If they don’t feel like talking, don’t push them to do so. Remember, even sitting in silence can be soothing for them.
  • Offer practical help such as bringing around a meal or picking up children from school.
  • If appropriate, offer to attend the funeral or memorial service with them.
  • Remember that certain days of the year might be particularly hard for them, such as birthdays or anniversaries. Offer support and sensitivity during this time.
  • If you’re unsure, ask the bereaved what they need or want. Simply by letting them know you care, this can be comforting.

If you feel that someone is in need of professional help, don’t be afraid to suggest or encourage this step. Although most people find support of family and friends enough, others may require more. Feel free to suggest Lifeline (13 11 14) or perhaps a therapist, doctor or psychologist in the local area.