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How to Support a Friend or Family Member Who Is Grieving

Grief is one of life’s most challenging emotional journeys to endure. Experiencing the death of someone deeply loved often induces intense feelings of emptiness, disorientation and melancholy that can seem impossible to bear. As a friend or relative wishing to offer your solidarity or support but uncertain how best to assist, having a starting point is helpful. Below are some suggestions gleaned over decades of supporting those in mourning on the long road to healing, that we hope will help you in supporting your loved ones.

Be Present & Listen Without Judgment

When a grieving person chooses to talk about their loss, be fully present and listen without offering unsolicited advice. Reactions to grief are intensely personal – what helps one may not aid another. Let them express whatever emotions arise, from anger and regret to happiness over fond memories shared. Refrain from evaluating how they “should” feel at any given point. Simply provide a calm, non-judgmental environment to open up freely without fear. Your understanding of empathy, without attempting to problem-solve, reassures them that all responses and feelings are normal and their journey is okay just as it is.

Offer Practical Help

In the wake of loss, even basic chores and responsibilities can seem burdensome in their grief. Stepping in with offers of tangible support, such as home cooked meals, driving them to appointments, taking care of children or pets, or assisting with paperwork spares them unnecessary stress. Ask what practical tasks you could help with rather than waiting to be asked. Grievers rarely want to burden others but deep down crave help lightening their load. Taking things off their plate allows time and energy for emotional processing. Simple assistance with errands or daily routines provides invaluable relief during this difficult transition.

Honour Memories Together

Finding ways to commemorate the departed with the grieving individual by engaging in the mutual exchange of cherished anecdotes and viewing photographs together can be helpful. Revisiting significant locations from the past, such as a beloved park or their childhood home, fosters a sense of connection to positive memories of the departed. By honouring their memory in a compassionate and encouraging manner, one can find solace throughout the grieving process. Inquire about their life and relationship with the deceased to gain a deeper understanding. Allocating space to actively recollect moments of joy demonstrates respect for the enduring place the loved one holds in their heart. Not everyone is open to this process, so it is crucial to ascertain whether the grieving individual is prepared to revisit or commemorate these memories before starting.

Give Grief Time

Healing from loss takes time. Expect that the grieving person may experience ups and downs for many months, and even years. Be patient as the pain does not follow a straight line – grief is deeply personal. Check in frequently through calls, texts and visits to let them know they are not alone. Your support is invaluable, even months later, as milestones like birthdays and death anniversaries can trigger fresh waves of sadness. Be there to listen without judgement on days that are especially difficult. Grieving has no set timeline, so continue offering empathy, compassion, and companionship for as long as the person needs it in their healing journey.


Know When to Suggest Professional Help

While grief naturally involves sorrow, for some the intensity of emotions and inability to function may persist for months beyond what is deemed healthy and normal. If signs of depression, lack of appetite, inability to work or extreme detachment continue for half a year or more, gently encourage the bereaved to seek counselling. They may need expertise in complicated grief. As a leader in funeral services since 1840, Alex Gow Funerals see grief daily and can refer people to support groups, mental health professionals and other resources experienced in facilitating healing through loss. Our priority is supporting overall well-being after loss.


With compassion and empathy, you have the power to ease the journey of grief for a loved one. Simple but caring acts, such as giving your undivided attention over a cup of tea or meal, can uplift their spirit immensely when in mourning. Remember that it is your genuine and non-critical presence, more than any “fix-it” advice, that lends the most comfort. No loss has to be faced alone. If we can assist your family with arrangements or counselling referrals during bereavement, please call our caring team at Alex Gow Funerals on (07) 3851 7800 anytime, as we have proudly served Brisbane for over 180 years through life’s difficult moments.

...still family-owned.


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463 Newman Rd
Geebung, QLD, 4034
Tel: (07) 3851 7800


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Cleveland, QLD, 4163
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Deception Bay, QLD, 4508
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