Helping a Bereaved Friend

Do you have any suggestions as to how I can come alongside someone who is grieving the loss of a spouse? A dear friend's husband just died. My spouse and I would like to be available to comfort her in any way we can. How can we best support her during this time of loss?

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

After the flowers have faded and the sympathy cards have all been packed away, what grieving people need most are friends. Faithful friends who are available and willing to be on hand when they’re needed but sensitive enough to step away when the bereaved person simply wants to be alone. Discerning friends who know the limitations of words. Wise friends who understand that their silent presence is often all that’s wanted.

The first thing you can do for your friend is allow her to talk. At those moments when she’s ready to give vent to her feelings, your role is to be a good listener. If you want to express something, it’s enough to say that you care and that you’re sorry. Explanations seldom console and advice is rarely helpful.

During these sessions, try to stay aware of your friend’s deeper emotions. Bear in mind that she may be angry as well as sad and that you need to give her time and space to acknowledge, express, and deal with these feelings. If it seems appropriate, don’t be afraid to encourage a good cry. And be patient – grief is a deep and complicated process and mourning can take a long time to work itself out. As you have opportunity, urge her to take care of herself by making sure that she gets enough exercise, rest, prayer, and recreation.

On the practical end of the spectrum, you can make yourself available to help with daily chores and necessities, such as yard work, housework, or washing the car. If you’re running an errand, call and ask your friend if there’s anything you can pick up for her while you’re out. If she has children, offer to baby-sit and go out of your way to give them special attention. Remember that they’re grieving too. Suggest that they write down what they’re feeling or express it in a drawing, and then spend some time discussing the results with them.

Above all, don’t avoid your friend. Take steps to insure that you can be there for her when she needs you. Write notes to her during especially difficult times, such as holidays and birthdays and anniversaries. You’ll find that a phone call or an invitation to lunch after church will make her day.

In the midst of all this, keep a watchful eye on your friend and make sure that she’s working through her grief in a healthy way. Watch for negative warning signs like excessive sleeping or drug and alcohol abuse. If you think she needs grief counseling, don’t hesitate to suggest it. Our Counseling staff can provide a list of trained therapists practicing in your area. You or your friend can also call our counselors if you feel their input would be helpful.


If a title is currently unavailable through Focus on the Family, we encourage you to use another retailer.

The God of All Comfort: Finding Your Way Into His Arms

Reflections of a Grieving Spouse: The Unexpected Journey from Loss to Renewed Hope

When God Doesn’t Make Sense

When Your Family’s Lost a Loved One: Finding Hope Together

Experiencing Grief

Becoming the Widows Advocate 




Coping With Death and Grief

Things Left Undone: Thoughts on Guilt and Grief

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

Thank you [field id="first_name"] for signing up to get the free downloads of the Marrying Well Guides. 

Click the image below to access your guide and learn about the counter-cultural, biblical concepts of intentionality, purity, community and Christian compatibility.

(For best results use IE 8 or higher, Firefox, Chrome or Safari)

To stay up-to-date with the latest from Boundless, sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter.

If you have any comments or questions about the information included in the Guide, please send them to [email protected]

Click here to return to Boundless

Focus on the Family

Thank you for submitting this form. You will hear from us soon. 

The Daily Citizen

The Daily Citizen from Focus on the Family exists to be your most trustworthy news source. Our team of analysts is devoted to giving you timely and relevant analysis of current events and cultural trends – all from a biblical worldview – so that you can be inspired and assured that the information you share with others comes from a reliable source.

Alive to Thrive is a biblical guide to preventing teen suicide. Anyone who interacts with teens can learn how to help prevent suicidal thinking through sound practical and clinical advice, and more importantly, biblical principles that will provide a young person with hope in Christ.

Bring Your Bible to School Day Logo Lockup with the Words Beneath

Every year on Bring Your Bible to School Day, students across the nation celebrate religious freedom and share God’s love with their friends. This event is designed to empower students to express their belief in the truth of God’s Word–and to do so in a respectful way that demonstrates the love of Christ.

Focus on the Family’s® Foster Care and Adoption program focuses on two main areas:

  • Wait No More events, which educate and empower families to help waiting kids in foster care

  • Post-placement resources for foster and adoptive families

Christian Counselors Network

Find Christian Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists, Psychologists, Social Workers and Psychiatrists near you! Search by location, name or specialty to find professionals in Focus on the Family’s Christian Counselors Network who are eager to assist you.

Boundless is a Focus on the Family community for Christian young adults who want to pursue faith, relationships and adulthood with confidence and joy.

Through reviews, articles and discussions, Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live.

Have you been looking for a way to build your child’s faith in a fun and exciting way?
Adventures in Odyssey® audio dramas will do just that. Through original audio stories brought to life by actors who make you feel like part of the experience; these fictional, character-building dramas use storytelling to teach lasting truths.

Focus on the Family’s Hope Restored all-inclusive intensives offer marriage counseling for couples who are facing an extreme crisis in their marriage, and who may even feel they are headed for divorce.