Caring Conversations: Recommending Resources to Someone Grieving

Kylee Bandy

6/23/20242 min read

Supporting a Grieving Loved One: Sensitive Recommendations

Experiencing the death of a loved one is one of life’s most profound and challenging events. As friends or family of someone going through any hard thing in life, we often find ourselves wanting to offer support but unsure how to do so without adding to their burden. Here are some considerations on how to sensitively recommend resources or professionals, or offering support yourself, while being mindful of the individual's emotional state.

1. Listen Actively and Compassionately

The first and most crucial step is to listen. Allow your loved one to express their feelings and share memories without interruption. Active listening demonstrates empathy and validates their emotions, providing a foundation of support before any recommendations are made.

2. Timing is Everything

Avoid offering recommendations too early in the grieving process. Immediately after a loss, emotions are raw, and practical advice may be overwhelming. Wait for a moment when the person seems more open to discussing practical matters.

3. Frame Suggestions as Options

When the time feels right, frame your recommendations as options rather than directives. For instance, saying "I know someone who found talking to a grief counselor helpful. Would you like more information on that?" gives them the choice without feeling pressured.

4. Personalize Your Recommendations

Base your suggestions on what you know about their specific needs and preferences. Tailored advice is often more appreciated and can make a significant difference in how it is received.

5. Use Gentle Language

Employ gentle and non-intrusive language. Phrases like "if you ever feel you need…" or "some people find it helpful to…" can make your suggestions feel less overwhelming.

6. Respect Their Decisions

It’s essential to respect their choices, whether they decide to seek help immediately or prefer to wait. Be supportive regardless of their decision and let them know you are there for them.

8. Offer Practical Assistance

Sometimes, offering to help with practical tasks can be a great form of support. This could include cooking meals or getting groceries, helping with house chores, or caring for pets and/or children if appropriate.

Supporting someone during a difficult time can make offering help without overwhelming them a delicate balance. By following some of the considerations above, you can provide meaningful support during one of the toughest times in their life. Remember, your compassion and understanding can make a significant difference in their journey through grief.