Ann Arbor Psychotherapy: Supporting a Grieving Friend or Family Member

Often friends and family do not know how to support someone who is grieving, it can be uncomfortable, and many people lack the tools to know where to start. Psychologists who are experts in grief explain effective steps you can take to support people in your life who are grieving. It is important to understand that grieving is not something that will end entirely, it comes in waves and can rise to the surface when you least expect it. There is no normal timetable for grieving, and everyone experiences grief differently. Here are some ways you can support people through their grieving:


Reach out to the grieving person and don’t give up: There are some days you may reach out and your bereaved friend will not get back to you, don’t assume they do not want to talk, remember they may feel overwhelmed. Keep reaching out, be specific about the help you are offering and remember that it is about what they need.


Don’t be afraid to talk about the person who passed: Psychologists say it can be helpful to talk directly about the person who died, mention their name and give the person grieving space to talk about their loved one. Often people avoid this thinking it would upset their grieving friend, but research says differently. By directly bringing up the person who passed you are giving the griever permission to remember them, recognize and convey their feelings.


Figure out your support role: How you can be there for your friend who is grieving? Are you someone who can offer a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on? Are you someone who can help get things done, help with errands or babysitting? Are you the friend who can distract and entertain? Identify your strengths and how they align with the needs of your bereaved friend.


Be present and patient: It is important to keep in mind that grieving has ups and downs, can last for years and exist in different forms. A person who is grieving may experience moments where they don’t feel like themselves and struggle to identify what is going on. As a supporter, acknowledge to the bereaved that grief can be a long-lasting  journey, and let them know you are there for support.


Sometimes losing a loved one can spark feelings of anxiety, fear, guilt, depression and can lead to severe grief. If you or a loved one need help processing a loss, talking with a licensed mental health professional can be helpful. Psychologists are trained to assist people to better process their feelings, develop coping strategies and increase resiliency. Interested in talking with a therapist today? Feel free to contact our office to get in touch with our skilled therapists today.