grieving woman using mobile phone

Supporting a grieving loved one from afar

Posted by AK Lander | On June 15, 2020 17:17

In this article, we look at some of the ways you can support a grieving friend or family member when you can’t be with them in person.

Knowing how to support a friend or family member through grief can be tough, but when you can’t be with them, it can make you feel useless. Making sure the person isn’t on their own is often the first thing we do when someone suffers a loss, but what can you do when you can’t be there in person to make them a cup of tea, listen to them and give them a hug?

In this article, we look at some of the ways you can support a grieving friend or family member when you can’t be by their side.

Keep in regular contact

Even when we can’t be close to our loved ones, after a loss, regular contact goes a long way – even if it’s just a text or a quick phone call.

“I think contact with loved ones is the best therapy, and if you can't do it in person, then remotely it will have to be!” Says blogger Nikki from Best Things To Do In York. “Maybe make them a short video every day, just to remind them you are thinking about them. It does not have to be about anything specific - perhaps a snippet of your daily life such as you sat down with a cuppa and a biscuit for a quick chat. Tell them you are sending a virtual hug and that before long, you are hoping to do it in person, too. A little bit of contact every day goes a long way.”

If you are too far away to pop round, blogger Rachel from Home In The Pastures says to “get in touch with friends that are closer by to help. Even just a quick chat on the doorstep will show them they are not alone.”

Sophie’s Nursery blogger Lauren also agrees with this: “Definitely keep in touch with them every day and ensure if you aren't always able to that someone closer by can pop by and see them and check they are ok.”

When you are talking to them, Sophie also advises that you “avoid those clichés - sometimes there is nothing worse than hearing ‘they're in a better place’, as it doesn't feel that way at the time. If they need the support, sympathise with them and be honest about how awful it is.”

For more information about the dos and don’ts of supporting a grieving friend or family member, check out our article, ‘What not to say to a bereaved person’.

Help out with errands where possible

When someone is grieving, their day-to-day life can take a back seat. Things may need cleaning; bills might need paying and food might need buying. Although it is easier to help out in person, even from afar, there are still ways you can be of help.

“See if you can help them with practical things,” suggests Codie, blogger at Codiekinz. “Ordering them a food shop for example. When you’re grieving, you can often forget about looking after yourself and anything you can do to make their life a little easier, even from afar, will make a huge difference.”

food shopping left on doorstep

Keep their loved one’s memory alive

When someone dies, they may no longer be here in person, but their memory is still alive. Although it’s tempting to avoid talking about the person that died, actually, it can really help those who are grieving to process their feelings.

“My mum died when I was 19,” Collette, blogger at Truly Madly Cuckoo told us. “I received a lovely letter from a friend I hadn't seen for a long time, which spoke about how much my mum meant to her and how my mum had bought her her first nursing textbook for university. She also sent a teddy. I still read the letter years later, as it reminds me how amazing my mum was in her short life.”

Scrap Fabric Love blogger Kristen also agrees that it’s important to keep the memory alive of the person that passed away: “My mum died when I was 10 and my dad died when I was 36. The things that brought me comfort then and now is hearing stories about them or comments like ‘your mum would have loved that’.”

Get them a thoughtful gift

“It’s hard not being there to give a grieving loved one a hug,” says Rachel. “But by sending them a thoughtful gift to let them know you are thinking about them will mean the world.”

Whether you want to send them a little self-care hamper or a beautiful bouquet of flowers, a gift is the perfect way of showing how much you care.

Parent Blogging Secrets blogger Jenny told us about her favourite gifts she received when she was bereaved: “The most thoughtful gifts I received was some Rescue Remedy, sleep pillow spray and a handwritten letter. Sharing your favourite memories of them in a letter and saying you're always there to talk when needed or have a drink and cry will mean a lot.”

Strangeness and Charm blogger Hayley also recommends sending them a special gift: “There’s not much you can say to make them feel better, it’s a hard time and it’s going to feel awful. Just let them know you’re there for them and if they ever need to talk about it or anything else, you’re there. You can always get something delivered like a takeaway to their house or send a bunch of flowers. Send a charitable donation to somewhere close to their heart in memory of their loved one - I’ve found that this is really well received.”

sympathy flowers

Make them a keepsake gift

If you have anything that belonged to the person that passed, Kristen recommends making your friend or family member a keepsake gift to cherish. After her parents passing, Kristen said: “The other thing that I clung to was their things - trinkets, clothing, things that they touched.

“If you are crafty, you could make your loved one a quilt with old clothes from the person who died if you have access to them. Even if you can’t give it to them right away, you could use it as a way to bring up stories about the person over the phone, for example, ‘I remember when she wore this we were on holiday’.”

Be there for them down the line

If you’re unable to see the person regularly it can be tough to keep the contact going, but it’s so imperative, even after the initial loss.

“Be there weeks and months down the line,” says blogger Lauren from That Little Outfit. “After the funeral and beyond, when life seems to have returned to normal for everyone else, that’s when checking in on them is most needed. Send a message, let them know you’re thinking of them and always mention their loved one by name.”

Yvette, who blogs at Uplifting and Inspiring Content, echoes this: “Be there for them. The next weeks and months will be so crucial. Listen with empathy and with no judgements because people grieve differently.”

At AK Lander, we know how hard it can be to lose someone dear to you. For advice and guidance, we have lots of resources over on our blog. Alternatively, if we can be of help while browsing headstones, our team are here to help.