When someone you care about has experienced a bereavement, it can be difficult to know what to say, or how to comfort them as they try to come to terms with their loss. 

You may believe that nothing you could possibly say or do would provide solace, or make up for what they have lost. You may even be worried about making a blunder and causing them even more pain. This kind of fear is natural. 

While it’s true that nothing can ever make the pain of absence disappear, there are still plenty of ways you can offer comfort and support to your bereaved friend or family member. 

Even if they are too caught up in their grief at the time, in future, when they reflect on your words and actions in future, they will be filled with a glow of warmth at the realisation that you were there with them throughout, showing that you cared. 

Reach Out – Even If You Feel Awkward

Perhaps the most important thing you can do to support your loved one as they process their bereavement is to show that you are there for them. 

While it may be tempting to back away and say nothing, rather than take the risk of saying the wrong thing, it’s vital that you let them know that they are not alone during this very difficult time. 

Whether you send a card, or a text, or a bunch of flowers – or even all of the above – show them that you acknowledge and mourn for their loss, and that they are in your thoughts and prayers. 

You may also wish to pay them a visit, if they are feeling up to it. Even if they are in no real condition to have a conversation, you can sit with them quietly and be their tower of strength, even in silence. One of the worst experiences for a bereaved person is feeling that they are on their own and that no one understands, so make sure you do what you can to show them that this is certainly not the case, and that they always have someone to rely on.

Be A Shoulder To Cry On

While some people may find it difficult to talk about their deceased loved one, or about the circumstances leading up to their deaths, for others it can be cathartic to open up about their experiences and their emotions. For example, they may have gone through a number of traumatic events during their loved one’s illness, which they need to process in whatever way they can, and talking can be a very helpful way to do this.

In some cases, the bereaved person may also be confused about their emotions. For instance, if someone has died after a long and painful illness, it’s not uncommon for their loved ones to feel a sensation of relief, that their suffering is now over. However, this relief may also cause feelings of guilt or shame. 

Make sure your friend or relation knows that their relief is perfectly natural, and they shouldn’t judge their own emotions or reactions harshly. 

Don’t Avoid The Subject Of The Person Who Passed

In the aftermath of someone’s death, you may feel that you should avoid bringing them up in conversation, in case you cause fresh pain to your bereaved loved one. While this may be the case for some people, if your friend or relative seems eager to talk about the person they have lost then they will probably appreciate any positive stories or memories you have to share. Just be careful when it comes to posting anything on social media; it’s important to respect their privacy as they may not wish to publicise their grieving process. 

Be Practical

If you feel awkward about discussing the subject of your loved one’s bereavement, you may find it easier to provide practical assistance – and this is often sorely needed. 

The days immediately following a death can be a bewildering and devastating time for a newly bereaved person. They may find it hard to eat, or clean the house, or even get dressed. 

Then, of course, there is all of the administration that surrounds death, and the arrangements for the funeral. Having to cope with so many tasks can be overwhelming for grieving family members and can put a great deal of pressure on their shoulders. 

By offering whatever practical assistance you can – whether it’s bringing over some meals for them to heat up, or giving their home a quick clean, or even offering to call the florist to arrange the funeral flowers – you can help remove some of this pressure. 

Give Them A Meaningful Gift If You Can’t Find The Right Words

Sometimes a gift can convey a heartfelt message as clearly as the written or spoken word. 

If you are not sure what to give your loved one, you can find an array of meaning memorial gifts at Heart To Heart Sympathy Gifts. For a long-lasting and personalised gift, you can’t do better than a set of memorial wind chimes engraved with a custom inscription. 

These exquisite chimes can either be hung up in your loved one’s home, or used to decorate the grave of the person who has passed.  

A gift such as memorial chimes serves to express your sadness and sympathy for your loved one, and serves as a lasting reminder of the high regard in which you held the deceased. Flowers will eventually turn brown and die, cards will be thrown out, but a set of tinkling chimes is a gift that will last for years to come.

Get Them Out Of The House 

When someone is wrestling with grief and the shock of bereavement, they can become more vulnerable to falling into depression or inertia. The world may temporarily cease to make sense, and they may find it difficult to get out of bed in the mornings and accomplish their daily tasks. They may even become more prone to illness, as the stress and sadness take a toll on their immune system. 

If you are worried about how they are coping in the days and weeks following the death, try and make time to go and visit them and offer support. There are various ways you can do this. For instance, if you know they are struggling to get out and about or meet up with other people, offer to take them out for a cup of coffee or a meal. 

Getting them out of the house and back into the rhythms of mundane daily life can help to give them a fresh perspective, and remind them that, even if it feels like their world has been turned upside down, they can still enjoy life’s regular small pleasures. 

Even just going for a short walk can be helpful. Fresh air and exercise will help to clear their minds and strengthen their bodies. If you have a dog, bring it along with you and encourage them to walk the animal with you. The unconditional love and boundless enthusiasm of a dog can help to raise a smile even when it seems like nothing else will.

Be Mindful Of Anniversaries And Other Special Dates 

Anniversaries, birthdays, and other special occasions related to the person who has passed can be very painful times for the bereaved, particularly in the first few months and years after the death has occurred. While they may seem to have moved on from their loss and be coping well, the arrival of a birthday or an anniversary can cause a fresh upwelling of pain and sadness. 

Try and make a note of these meaningful dates so you can be sure to offer support and lend a sympathetic ear on those occasions. Supporting your loved one through those difficult days will provide them with much-needed consolation and strength, and they will undoubtedly appreciate your efforts. 

Find Other Avenues For Them To Gain Additional Support

Sometimes, the experience of a bereavement can seem too painful to bear, and can cause someone to succumb to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. 

In some cases, they may even develop a form of post-traumatic stress, particularly if the nature of the death and the circumstances leading up to it were particularly difficult. While traumatic deaths are frequently portrayed on TV and in films, coming face to face with it in real life can be a terrible shock and can cause psychological damage that needs addressing. 

In these cases, the fact is that they will require more help than you and your friends and relatives can provide. Do some research on the different forms of support they can access; from bereavement counselling, to support groups. They may even require medical assistance, if they are struggling to cope with depression, intrusive thoughts, or symptoms of panic attacks.  

While they are receiving the help that they need, make sure that you are still on hand to support them as much as you can. After all, the biggest source of comfort, when you are coping with grief, is to know that you are not alone and that the people you care about are looking out for you.