How to help someone bereaved

If you know someone who is grieving the death of someone close you may wonder how best to support them. Read on for some suggestions of what to say and do.

People who have been bereaved may want to talk about the person who has died. One of the most helpful things you can do is simply listen, and give them time and space to grieve. Offering specific practical help, not vague general offers, can also be very helpful.


  • Be there for the person who is grieving - pick up the phone, write a letter or an email, call by or arrange to visit.
  • Accept that everyone grieves in their own way, there is no 'normal' way.
  • Encourage the person to talk.
  • Listen to the person.
  • Create an environment in which the bereaved person can be themselves and show their feelings, rather than having to put on a front.
  • Be aware that grief can take a long time.
  • Contact the person at difficult times such as special anniversaries and birthdays.
  • Mention useful support agencies such as Cruse.
  • Offer useful practical help.


  • Avoid someone who has been bereaved.
  • Use clichés such as 'I understand how you feel'; 'You'll get over it ; 'Time heals'.
  • Tell them it's time to move on, they should be over it - how long a person needs to grieve is entirely individual.
  • Be alarmed if the bereaved person doesn’t want to talk or demonstrates anger.
  • Underestimate how emotionally draining it can be when supporting a grieving person. Make sure you take care of yourself too.

Further help

Our booklet Restoring Hope gives more detail on how you may feel following a bereavement. Other publications are available from our online shop.

Grief is a natural process, and most people will cope with help and support from family and friends. For those who need additional specialist help, Cruse offers free confidential support for adults and children, and this can be by telephone, email or face-to-face.

Helpline: 0808 808 1677

Children and young people: Hope Again