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Holding Hands and Offering ComfortGrief can be a complicated and difficult emotion to understand. When someone close to you is in this state, you may not be sure how you can best help. Grief can come about after the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship, or following a number of other significant life changes. While it can be difficult to navigate, there are several steps to consider when you are looking to provide comfort to someone lost in his or her grief.

Don’t Hold Back

One of the biggest mistakes people make when attempting to comfort someone who is grieving is providing too much space. When a situation is fresh, many people assume that reaching out and saying or doing the wrong thing can make matters worse. In truth, most people going through a loss want to be in contact with their family members and friends. These people might not have the easiest time reaching out, however, which can make it appear that they don’t want company. By taking the initiative, you can break the ice and show your friend that you’re there for them.

There Isn’t a Time Limit

Patience is a virtue when it comes to grief. If you’re trying to help a loved one who is mourning a loss, you cannot expect him or her to “finish” at a certain rate. The duration of grief will vary from one person to the next and depend on a number of outlying factors. Attempting to rush your friend to a “solution” can be an easy way to make this individual feel like a burden. Usually, being present and exhibiting patience is a wonderful way to bring a sense of comfort and reassurance to someone who is in a low emotional state.

Intense Emotions Happen 

You never can tell how someone in a state of grief is going to react to a given situation. People who are typically chipper and optimistic might become irate and unreasonable when they are dealing with a loss. If you are trying to console or support someone who is grieving, it is best to anticipate intense emotions. Should your friend or loved one snap at you, yell, call you names, cry, or ignore you outright, you need to try your best to not take it personally. As the grief passes, he or she will have a clear head again.

Acknowledge the Loss

Death can be a very uncomfortable topic for many people to discuss. While you might be totally fine with being present when someone you care about is mourning, you also might not wish to engage in conversation about it. Unfortunately, this can be an issue. The worst thing you can do for someone who is grieving is fail to acknowledge the loss. By ignoring or downplaying the main cause of grief, you are essentially saying that the situation doesn’t matter to you. No matter how difficult it might be for you, acknowledge the loss and engage with your friend.


While you might not know what to say to someone dealing with a loss, you likely will not need to say much. Someone who is dealing with grief is likely looking for a person he or she can talk about the departed. If you want to provide comfort, ask questions about the deceased and allow your friend to tell you stories. This level of engagement might be able to temporarily lift your friend out of a low place and get him or her to smile while recalling fond memories.

Though grief can take many forms, someone who is in mourning will appreciate a shoulder to lean on from a close friend or family member. Use your knowledge of the person to figure out the best way to provide support, and do what you can to help a friend get through a very difficult experience.

Category: Loss

grief communication self care death

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