Coping with grief


Losing that special someone is an overwhelming experience and grieving that loss can be a long, and complex journey. It’s natural to feel empty or numb after such an experience and you’re not expected to automatically adjust and settle into this new routine. Grief is a natural human response to such a radical personal change.

This time can often be the most painful after losing a loved one. That’s why it’s vital to surround yourself with supportive people.

Helping someone in grief

If you’re looking for ways to help someone in grief, below are some thoughtful gestures you could make to alleviate their burden:

  1. Offer to house out-of-town friends or relatives. The grieving family will likely want space of their own during this difficult time.
  2. Pick-up these same interstate or international attendees from the airport
  3. Bring along any foldable tables and chairs to set up at the home as a convenient way to accommodate house guests.
  4. Bring along some extra tissues to the funeral.
  5. Offer to reply to any messages of condolence on behalf of the grieving family.
  6. Have a large umbrella on stand-by should you need to shield mourners from rain or harsh sunshine during the funeral.
  7. Fill an Esky with ice, bottled water and single-serve soft drinks to hand out
  8. Suggest driving the grieving individuals as they go about organising the funeral service. Deep grief can impair concentration and make driving a hazard. They may also appreciate having the company.
  9. Offer to do a load of washing or iron a basket of clothing. Better yet, clean their house so they don’t have to worry about it.
  10. Mow the lawn, remove weeds, rake the leaves and sweep up footpaths.
  11. Bring over some extra paper towel, paper plates, toilet paper and napkins – the essentials any house needs when extra people are over.
  12. If you’re sure you’re up to the challenge, offer to take over any carer responsibilities the grieving individuals might have for children or dependants.
  13. If appropriate, take any children out for an ice cream or play at the park.
  14. Clean their car.
  15. Take the dogs for a walk.
  16. Offer to drive friends and family to the funeral and home again.
  17. Cook dinners in plastic containers for freezing, bring over takeaway, or even a ready to heat dish would be a thoughtful gesture.
  18. Offer to take any suits or dresses to the dry cleaner in time for the funeral
  19. If the grieving individuals have young children, offer to be the one to mind them during the funeral so the parents can concentrate on the service.
  20. Most importantly, just stay in touch with the person. Experience has shown us that offers of help quickly dry up after the service. This is a time when your friend or family member will need your care and support most. Even offering a listening ear or shoulder to cry on can make a world of difference.

For more tips and information, grief support resources are available, or visit our grief FAQ page.


* Information in this section contains extracts from 'Now that the funeral is over – understanding the effects of grief' by Doris Zagdanski, copyright 1993. This advice has been reproduced with the kind permission of the author.