Helping you get through tough times

Helping a friend after someone dies

When someone dies, it often affects many people. It maybe the family and friends of the person who has died that feel the loss the most.

flower bedHowever, even if you didn’t know the person who died you may still be sad or feel a sense of loss.

It’s a good idea to talk to someone you trust about how you’re feeling. This may be a friend, family member or someone outside the situation.

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. Here are some ways you could support your friend.

Letting them know you care

Friends are going to be important to the person experiencing the loss and so let them know you care. You may want to do this face-to-face, give them a call, or send a card or some flowers.

If you’re calling in on them, ring first, to let them know you are coming.

Knowing what to say

Knowing what to say may be hard. It’s OK to be honest and let your friend know 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 you’re around if they want a chat or just want someone to hang out with.

Staying in touch

Keeping in contact is a way of letting your friend know you’re available if they need you.

If you’re planning to hang out with other friends, ask your friend to come along. Remember, they’re 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.

If they say no a few times in a row, check-in with them to see if you should keep asking. Chances are they’ll want you to, so that when they’re ready they know it shouldn’t be difficult to start socialising again.

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 deeply.

People can be irritable in ways they’re not normally when grieving, so give them a bit of space for this.


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. 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’s difficult to see someone you care about upset and crying. It is OK to cry too, and is often a good way to express sadness and may help them to feel better.

Look after yourself

Take time out for yourself. It may be exhausting for you to share a loss. You may like to do something special for yourself. It may also be helpful to talk to someone you trust about how you’re 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. Take a look at the face-to-face section for more information about how a counsellor can help.

This article was last reviewed on 01 December 2017

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