Help­ing oth­ers cope with be­reave­ment

Help­ing some­one who is be­reaved – know­ing when to give them space or what to say – can be very dif­fi­cult. We asked two ex­perts for their prac­ti­cal ad­vice...

YOURS (UK) - - Inside - By Lorna White

Prac­ti­cal ways to help

The first week after some­one has passed away is usu­ally very stress­ful. Your loved one may need help with reg­is­ter­ing the death, plan­ning the funeral, as well as tak­ing care of them­selves.

Ni­cola Dias, from Cruse Be­reave­ment Care, says there are some prac­ti­cal ways you can of­fer sup­port.

“It’s im­por­tant you’re there for them as emo­tional sup­port but also to of­fer some prac­ti­cal help. That could be to help ar­range the funeral, do some food shop­ping, or cook­ing them a meal – this helps re­mind them that there’s some­one think­ing and car­ing about them.”

If the funeral hasn’t al­ready been planned, it can be very hard for those left be­hind to make plans. Of­fer to help make de­ci­sions, such as which hymns, flow­ers and read­ings to choose.


It’s im­por­tant for the be­reaved per­son to feel they can open up fully to you. As a friend, they may feel they can be more hon­est with you than with their own fam­ily.

Cre­ate a space where they feel com­fort­able to talk and get up­set. In­vite them to your home for tea and some food. En­sure you won’t be dis­turbed, that the set­ting is peace­ful and quiet and that nei­ther of you has to rush off. This will help them feel at ease to talk about their emo­tions without be­ing judged.

“Make a quiet en­vi­ron­ment with no dis­trac­tions, where you can have that one-to-one time to talk without time con­straints for a free-flow­ing con­ver­sa­tion. Don’t probe them too much, but en­cour­age them to talk about how they’re feel­ing,” says Ni­cola.

Give them space

Re­mem­ber your friend may not feel they can talk to you, or may not want to see you. Ni­cola says this is nor­mal. “They might feel guilty about not be­ing able to say what they wanted to say to their loved one, or they might feel an­gry about the way the death has come about and want to process all that by them­selves, so it’s im­por­tant to un­der­stand that.”

If they’re act­ing this way, re­spect their space but let them know that you’re there when they’re ready to talk.


Spe­cial dates can bring painful mem­o­ries and trig­ger emo­tions. There are a few kind things you can do to make that tough day a lit­tle more bear­able.

“Go for a nice meal, or go to the late per­son’s favourite place for the day to re­mem­ber them,” says Ni­cola. “Al­though it could cause sad­ness that their loved one isn’t there, it’s also likely to make the be­reaved per­son feel closer to the one they miss.”

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