Acknowledge what has happened as soon as you hear
about the death. Consider sending a sympathy card right away.
You don't need to say a lot, but your words are likely to be very
meaningful and recognized as supportive.
Consider sending flowers or a plant along with a
It is often helpful and appreciated when others bring
meals for the family.
Usually a prepared meal that will keep until the
family is ready to use it makes a good choice. This gesture
can ease the burden of cooking and shopping for the family while
they are attending to the immediate details of the funeral and
caring for family.
It is wise to use a disposable dish when
possible. If it is not possible to use a disposable container,
mark your container with your name on a piece of tape and stick it
to the outside of the container so that the family does not have to
try and track down the owners of containers.
It would also be helpful to identify what is in
Take the time and make the effort to reach out and
offer support to this person. Your gestures will certainly be
- If you are not able to visit in person, consider a
brief phone call.
- Stay connected to the person, listening, checking in
on them and staying in touch after the loss.
- There are usually a lot of people helping right
after the death, but in the days, weeks and months to follow, your
friend or family member may need your support, care and concern when
others have returned to their own routines.
Be a good listener. A person experiencing grief may express
feelings of anger, fear, anxiety, sadness, frustration, and a number of
other emotions. Allow for the expression of these feelings.
- The opposite may also be the case, the grieving
person may not want to talk about it, and that is alright too.
- If you are able, you may want to offer to help
care for children, run errands or perform other tasks that may be
- If there are children, be sure to remember that they
grieve too. You may want to let them know that they are in your
- Depending on the situation, you may want to give a
gift. There are several types of bereavement gifts available--necklaces, gift baskets and other meaningful ways to share your
sympathy and sincerity.
- If you are an employer, allow the person to take the
time they need off work.
- If you happen to be very skilled creatively, you may
wish to offer to put together a dvd of pictures, a slide show or some
other memory tribute.
- As a friend, it is very meaningful to do something
to show another that you care about what they are going through.
Loss is difficult and can touch us in many ways, caring friends and
family can be very helpful.
Etiquette for Family & Friends for the
If you can, attend the funeral. You will
likely find your attendance appreciated by family. Plan to arrive
10 to 15 minutes early so as not to interrupt the services.
If there is a guest book, you are requested and
encouraged to sign it. Provide your full name and address.
If the person is a business associate, it is proper to list the
If you are following in the procession be sure to
turn on your lights.
Keep in mind that there is often a reception for
family and friends following the services.
Life is busy, but please keep your family member or
friend in mind after their loss. As people go through the
transitions and changes following a loss, they continue to need and will
appreciate your support.
No one is useless in this world who lightens
the burdens of another.
Other articles for family & friends
Helping a Friend in Grief
Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.
Dispelling 5 Common Myths About
Grief by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.