Helping a friend after someone dies

flower bedWhen someone dies it often affects many people. It may be the family and friends of the person who has died that feel the loss the most.

However, even though you don’t know the person well you may still be sad or feel a sense of loss. It is a good idea to have someone you trust to talk to about how you are feeling. This may be a friend, family member or someone like a teacher or counsellor.

When one of your friends is close to someone who has died, it may be tough for you to know how to help them or decide what to say. It’s ok to feel unsure about how you can help them. You may find it helpful to read the ideas below for information about how you might be able to help and support your friend.

Letting them know you care

Friends are likely to be important to the person who is experiencing the loss and so it may be nice to let them know that you care. You may want to do this face to face, give them a call, or send a card or some flowers. If you are calling in on them it is a good idea to ring first, to let them know you are coming.

Knowing what to say

Knowing what to say may be hard. It is OK to be honest and let your friend know that you don’t know what to say. You may want to start by asking if there is anything you can do. Your friend may appreciate knowing that you are around if they want a chat or just want someone to hang out with.

Staying in touch

Keeping in contact can be a way of letting your friend know that you are available if they need you. If you are planning to hang out with other friends, ask your friend to come along. Remembering they are probably going to cope better with quieter things like going to the movies or hanging out at someone’s place rather than going to parties.

Be understanding

Experiencing a loss can cause people to feel lots of different things. Try to be understanding of your friend’s reactions as it may be that grief has affected them.


In time your friend may want to talk about the person they have lost. This is often a sign they are managing their grief. Giving them the chance to talk may be helpful for them. Try to be patient if you have heard the stories before, it is not uncommon for people who are grieving to want to go over the same stories a number of times.

It is ok to cry and grieve

It may be hard to see someone you care about upset and crying. It is ok to cry, and it is often a good way to express sadness and may help them to feel better.

Look after yourself

It may be exhausting for you to share a loss. Taking time out for yourself is important. You may like to do something special for yourself. It may also be helpful to have someone you trust that you can talk with about how you are feeling.

Finding help and information

Finding information about grief and loss may help your friend. You may be able to help them find someone like a counsellor to talk to. You may want to look at the face-to-face section for more information about how a counsellor can help.

Your local phone book should also have information about what counsellors are in your local area, or you can speak with your GP or your local health centre.


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