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Helping a grieving loved one: Ideas for how to help your friends and family through the difficulty of loss.

Offering to grocery shop can be a huge help to a grieving loved one. See other ideas for how to help your friends and family through the difficulty of loss.

Losing a loved one can be devastating. Not only do the survivors of the deceased have to figure out how to heal and move forward with their lives, but they also have to fill in the financial holes left behind.

If you're close to someone who's lost a loved one, you want to help them in any way you can. For many of us, though, it's difficult to know what to do or say. There's no definitive "right" way to support a friend or relative that's grieving. Everyone deals with loss differently. There are, however, some good guidelines to follow when you want to help.

Lend A Hand

For a variety of reasons, those who are grieving may not reach out when they need help the most. Even though friends and family are quick to offer support, it's generally not specific. Instead of saying "let me know how I can help," try offering specific assistance like trips to the grocery store or dropping off a meal. Here are a few more suggestions:

  • Caring for children (picking them up or dropping them off at school)
  • Caring for a pet
  • Running errands
  • Making dinner
  • Being on hand to answer the phone or receive gifts or guests
  • Picking up out-of-town friends and family at the airport
  • Help with bill paying or filling out insurance forms

Listen and Speak Thoughtfully

One of the most critical things that you can do when helping a loved one deal with loss is to know how to listen. Sometimes listening might mean letting your loved one talk, and other times, listening could mean simply sitting in silence. Try to avoid giving unwanted advice or comparing their grief to yours or others. Make sure that you offer as much comfort as possible, letting them know that you're available to them any time.

Be There Through the Long Haul

Too often, support for those who are grieving will dwindle after the funeral is over even though the mourning process can last much longer than that. To truly help a grieving friend or relative, continue your support for months, or even years, after their loss. This doesn't mean that they'll need help with grocery shopping 10 months later; rather, they may still need emotional support. Try this:

  • Keep inquiring and stay in touch
  • Be there on holidays, anniversaries and other significant days
  • Don't judge a book by its cover - just because they look fine, doesn't mean they are
  • Keep an eye out for early signs of depression*

Grief is a very personal and unique feeling. Remember when helping a loved one deal with loss that grief may likely affect you or others differently. Being a good listener, helping them with daily obligations and keeping in touch with them through the long haul may help them better focus on healing.

* You are leaving AIG Direct's Web site and linking to a non-affiliated third party site. Please be advised that you will then link to a Web site hosted by another party, where you will no longer be subject to, or under the protection of, the privacy and security policies of AIG Direct. AIG Direct assumes no liability for the content, information, security, or policies provided by this site.

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