Need advice – how are you supposed to "be there" for someone grieving?

posted 3 years ago in Emotional
Post # 3
253 posts
Helper bee

@shadowedpixie:  I think you need to bring him food. Hug and kiss him. Check on him. Ask if he needs you to pick anything up for him. If he says no bring him things anyways. Listen to him. Be supportive. There is no real formula. Just be around and be helpful.

Post # 4
195 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

I think his healing will be at his own pace and that its not something that another person can “lead the way” on. The only thing you can do is be there. Continue to ask him if he wants to talk and respect his space if he doesn’t. Everyone grieves differently and in their own way. Once he starts thinking a little more rationally, he’ll probably recongnize everything you did to be there for him. Its just going to take some time until he reaches that point. Its great that you’re willing to try anything to help him and be there for him. I hope things get better soon.

Post # 5
2111 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2015

My grandfather was a musician, smoker and alcoholic. He ended up with cancer everywhere, but it was pancreatic that killed him. The thing that helped me the most was watching the videos of him play, listening to his music, reminiscing about how much joy he brought to us all and what a great person he was. We acknowledge that he probably wouldn’t have died had he been less stubborn and seen a doctor sooner. We know he wasn’t always the best man, but he made a difference in the lives of so many people and was always the life of the party.

Post # 6
1040 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2014

I’ve been there, my FI lost his mother last year. Just give him time. In the meanwhile, let him lead the way in terms of what he needs. If he wants to talk, let him. If he wants to be distracted, talk about your day. If he needs to be held, then hold him. Don’t bring her death up, hut be supportive so that if he wants to talk then he can. 


As for the smoking thing, yes it almost certainly caused her cancer, but its likely that by the time she was diagnosed it was too late. Quitting smoking would not have saved her, and it wouldn’t have sped up her death. Im generally very anti smoking, but I wouldn’t expect someone in their last days of life to give up one of their few sources of comfort. I don’t think she kept smoking because of a death wish. 

Post # 7
19 posts
  • Wedding: November 2013

When I lost my mbest the best thing anyone could do for me was to stay the same around me. It somehow made it worse when people made a big deal of my loss. Be there for him, let him know that if he wants to talk, you’ll listen, but don’t pester him too much. 

Also, pp is right. Smoking may have caused the cancer, but by the time it metastasises it’s not much that can be done. Stopping smoking at hat point would’ve done zero good, and may have caused enough stress to her that the disease may have progressed more quickly. She probably didn’t want to be treated like a sick person, which she most likely would’ve been if she had told them. 

Post # 8
495 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: November 2014

@WeddingPea:  +1

OP when I was going through this it was little things that helped the most. Some days I was too sad to get up and make food but my friends would show up with a meal or come over and clean. Just taking a few stresses off me helped so much. It was just knowing that they were around and I could talk when I needed to, I wouldn’t starve, and wouldn’t live in a dirty apartment when I was too sad to cook or clean. I remember a friend just showed up and washed my car and changed the oil one day. Didn’t even come to the door just showed up to help me in some way. Those gestures are so powerful when you’re going through loss. So pick up his favorite candy bar on your way home from work and if you know he had a favorite comic book or something grab that and give it to him when you walk in. Hugs are the best too.

 Don’t ask him how he is every second because that gets old. I hated it because how many times can you tell people your heart is still broken? Instead let him know when he’s ready to talk you are always ready to listen and leave it at that.

Post # 9
253 posts
Helper bee

@KittyCatToe:  Very good advice. I agree the little things count the most. The things unsaid seem to help the most!

Post # 10
407 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: April 2013

shadowedpixieI agree with just being around and being helpful. When my dad died last year, I freaked out on my DH, then FI. I was trying to copy photos to put out at the calling hours and wasn’t using the machine properly. He gently told me so. I FREAKED OUT and started SCREAMING at him in the middle of Walmart, saying ‘If you’re so smart, then you fucking do it.’ I threw the pictures down and they scattered on the floor. I then stormed out of the store. Do you know what he did? He picked the pictures up, copied them, paid for them, and didn’t say a word about what an asshole I was being. He even cooked some nights and just listened to me. He’ll come around, it will just be a while.

Post # 11
2661 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2015

@shadowedpixie:  Just be there for him. I don’t think you need to push him to talk. My dad died when I was 11, and I appreciated the friends who helped distract me. The friends who brought me interesting books to read, invited me to their church group or to other events so I could just get out of my house and not think about what was going on. It took me about 6 years before I really started to deal with the situation. Everyone grieves and heals at their own pace, you can’t push it. Just spend time with him and only take about it if he starts it himself. I had no interest in people discussing it with me. Let him come to you in his own time. And food is always good.

Post # 12
305 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2014



As someone that has experienced her own mother passing and having a super rough relationship with the family, all I can say is just be there. Listen when/if he talks and opens up, and be comfortable in the silence if he doesn’t.

My FI, pushed me to get out of the house too soon so we could go to the cabin and see his friends he hadn’t seen in a while, and after an hour, I locked myself in the bathroom and just sobbed and sobbed. I wasn’t ready to be anywhere and I was mad at him for making me go.

Just be there, give him love . You can’t bring his mom back (and  know you know this obviously). He will come around. It’s not easy, it’s hard to know what to do because all you want is to make them feel better, but it all just takes time.

you’ll figure it out 🙂

Post # 13
830 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: April 2014

@shadowedpixie:  I don’t have much advice to give, but just a small comment on your number 1 – his statement that “Artists aren’t appreciated until after their death”.

I don’t know if he’s referring to himself in that, or if he’s peeved at other family members for some reason, but I think he just needs to know that his mother knew how much he loved her.

While I’m at it, I’ll try your number 2 as well… This seems like a very sensitive topic, and I wouldn’t bring it up or speak about it unless he does so first. I can see how the situation can be looked at in a positive way, but I don’t think it’s something he needs to worry about right now.

If I think of anything more I’ll write again but in the meantime I’m sure he’ll come around. Just keep doing what you’re doing. Stay strong for him – sure it doesn’t feel like much right now to you, but he’s on his way back, even if neither of you can see it yet. Time and love; that’s all he needs. And cheers for the paragraphs – much appreciated 🙂

Post # 14
928 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

Honestly, just being there for him, checking in & asking how he’s doing is the best thing to do. Alot of time when bad things happen people feel awkward and draw away from the person grieving. You might be one of the only people sticking around during this difficult time – so keep in close contact with him & that will mean a lot. Otherwise I would kind of let him lead, if it seems like he wants to talk about the subjects you outlined, these are a few things you could say:


1. If the cancer was that far gone by the time she found out, there probably was nothing they could do. Maybe her continuing to smoke was her way of dying on her own terms. With terminal illness even having a tiny bit of control over life can help people feel better.


2. The estranged mother probably didn’t come to the funeral because she didn’t feel it was her place. If he’s not ready to have a relationship with her, he should just tell her that & contact her if/when he is ready.


3. The compliments may have been their way of trying to build a relationship with him, or just to let him know that he’s loved & that the family is proud of him even though they haven’t been close in the past. Also I’d remind him that a lot of times people just don’t know what to say at all in these situations, bringing up good happy things can be a way for people to avoid talking about death.


You’re a good friend, just keep trying your best. A way to maybe bring some of this up without directly mentioning the death would be to say “Do you think you might want to have a closer relationship with your extended family in the future?” Also with the holidays coming up you could invite him to your events (if you can or want to) & that might also bring up him possibly seeing the other family members etc.

Edit: Sorry I didn’t see how old this post was, hope he’s doing ok <3

Post # 15
37 posts

The best way you can really be there for him is to just get him through daily things. Since you are obviously not an emotional person, just do what you know how. Examples: cleaning the house, cooking, taking care of the pets (if you have any). This is a process that he needs to go through on his own. You can’t lead him through his grief, he needs to figure it out as he is feeling it.

My boyfriend’s grandfather passed away recently and he said that the best thing I did for him was to just sit there and hold his hand while he talked. It wasn’t the things I was saying that made him feel better, just knowing that I was there for anything he needed helped immensely. 

Good luck and I’m sorry for your loss.

Post # 16
182 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: October 2014

Last year 4 people in my FI’s family died, his grandmother, great grandmother, uncle and worst of all his brother (who he was extremly close to). With all this death the thing that seems to help the most is just BEING there. Sometimes that includes doing nothing. I cannot tell you how many times that I have just sat there while he either vented, cried or just sat there.

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