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Support for grieving family and friends

When someone you care about is grieving, it can be difficult to know what to do or say to help them.

We hope this page will help you with some ideas about how you can help them.

Initial support

Take them a meal

If you have a community of people who like to cook, maybe set up a roster. Websites like "take them a meal" or "gather my crew" can help

Ask how they are & how you can help?

Don't be afraid to ask, sometimes given the opportunity, there will be lots you can help with

Listen & be present

It's okay not knowing what to say... just be present

Help collect the kids

Offer to pick-up/collect kids from school or activities

Don't be afraid to talk about the deceased by name

(if culturally appropriate)

Family and friends often avoid talking about the person who has died as they don't want to upset the bereaved, but talking about the person, sharing photos or stories can help

Offer a lift

Drive them to the supermarket or on errands

Shopping

Offer to pick up groceries. A simple "I'm off to the supermarket, can I pick something up for you?" is helpful. People are more inclined to accept help, if they know you're not going out of your way.

Talk openly about loss

People often welcome the chance to talk

Go for a walk

Getting outside in the fresh air is good for both of you

Ongoing support

Continue to check in

After the funeral, grieving people often feel forgotten. A simple but regular message or  weekly walk or coffee can be helpful particularly in the first few weeks/ months.

Think about upcoming birthdays, anniversaries etc.

It's helpful to add the date to your calendar to remember. More on this below. 

Don’t be afraid to talk about the deceased person

Often friends and family avoid speaking about the deceased person, to avoid upsetting them. However, grieving people report a longing to speak about the deceased person.

Coping as a family

Family members may experience grief differently.

Some may prefer to share as a family and others may need time alone.

Although it might feel difficult, try to keep communication open - be gentle and check in with one another.

Remembering your family member’s birthday, anniversary or missed milestones
e.g. school graduation.

Anniversaries, birthdays and milestones are allowed to be hard.

Photos 

Sharing of a favourite meal, activity, songs

A place you may visit

​Journaling

Having a plan to care for oneself and each other around those times can help you.

Each family may find their own unique way of honouring their loved one during one of these milestones.


Family and friends will want different things, especially for marking milestones/ birthdays.

Think about boundaries for the anniversary: when do you need family-only time, verses time with extended family/ friends? Putting boundaries in place and communicating them to your friends and family will help you and them. 

Remember there’s no right or wrong when it comes to grief. It’s normal to experience hard days, often when you’re least expecting them.
 

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