How to support someone in their grief

Helping a grieving friend requires kindness, empathy, patience, flexibility and maybe a little lightness. It helps to know a few things and have some skills to lend a hand.

Friends sitting on a couch in family room and hugging.

Compassion and caring support from friends can help make life a little more predictable and comforting for someone who is grieving. One of the most important things you can do is create a feeling of presence so that your friend knows you will be there through the difficult moments of their grief.

Grief has no predictable timeline or finish line; it is only a process of moving toward a changed future. Your friend’s grief will far surpass a few weeks or a few months, so get comfortable with being there for the long haul.

Ideas for supporting someone in grief

  • Expect fluctuations in your friend’s moods and responses; these are common during grief.
  • Acknowledge that individuals may express grief differently. Don’t assume you know.
  • Recognize that in the immediate aftermath of a loss, your friend may seem overwhelmed by support or completely devastated.
  • Be mindful of challenging times like birthdays or holidays.
  • Accept that there’s no singular way to grieve; everyone processes loss uniquely.
  • Stay attuned to your friend’s emotional state, adapting yourself accordingly—whether serious, lighthearted, or comforting.
  • Ask questions that aren’t too open-ended: Rather than “How do you feel today?” What are your plans for this week?”
  • Use technology to organize meals, tasks and errands for your grieving friend or family member. Websites such as, or are all tools that allow you organize support.
  • Take on practical tasks. Babysit their kids, walk their dog, do the yard work.
  • Remind them that there is no rush or timeline for their grief.
  • Check in regularly and listen without offering advice.

Our dedicated grief support team is here to provide compassionate care and guidance to individuals and families coping with loss who reside in the communities of Etobicoke and West Toronto at no charge. Our services our possible thanks to the generosity of donors and our dedicated volunteers. We’re always eager to welcome new people to our community of care. Learn more about volunteering, or make a donation to support our services.

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