6 Helpful Ways To Show Compassion To Grieving People

by | Mar 6, 2022

Great Tips For Lifting People’s Spirits In Hard Times

There are lots of ways to show compassion. It’s very needed in our world today.

People are grieving all around us. You don’t have to look very far to find someone who’s hurting. That being said, I’d like to share with you 6 ways to show compassion to those who are grieving.

I hope you can walk away with some tips along with some encouragement to show up for the people in your life when they need you the most.

Let’s learn and grow together!

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ways to show compassion

Write A Card

There’s something very meaningful and beautiful about receiving a handwritten note or letter. When grieving a loss, reading cards from loved ones communicates so much love and compassion. These are notes that tend to be saved and tucked away in a rainy-day box or memory box. They become treasured possessions.

I’ve heard people say before, “I just don’t have a way with words. I don’t know what to write.”

My thoughts? Do it anyway.

Think about how much it would mean to you if you were the one grieving. This is a chance to speak life-giving words to someone in your life in a time that they need it most.

Written cards are something that I’ve been doing since I was very young. God put it on my heart at an early age to send letters and cards to people as a way to show compassion and God’s love for them.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard back from the recipients about how meaningful the words were and how it lifted their spirits and pointed them to truth. My prayer before each letter I write is, “Your words, through my hand, to their heart, for Your glory and their good.”

Think of someone in your life who is grieving or walking through a hard time and grab a notecard to write them a letter. Compassion, when lived out, is so powerful!

Make A Meal

Another way to show compassion to someone who is grieving is to make them a meal.

Grief is like a tidal wave for many people. One minute you feel like you can finally walk again only to be met by a crashing wave that knocks you to the ground. Totally unexpected.

When you have a friend in your life who is continually being pummeled by the waves, reach out and serve them by bringing them a meal.

Some people are so stuck in their grief that thinking about cooking or eating is the last thing on their mind. But it’s definitely something they need.

Not a cook? That’s totally fine. There are plenty of ways to help with food and meals that don’t involve cooking.

Here are some great suggestions for non-cooks:

  • Organize a meal train
  • Give restaurant gift cards
  • Go get their favorite takeout meal and bring it to their door
  • Offer to go buy them groceries so they don’t have to get out
  • Ask if you can treat their family to dinner
  • Have food delivered to them
  • Stock their fridge and pantry

None of those ideas require you to cook if that’s not your thing. These ideas do require some thought and organization, but aren’t too difficult to execute.

Real Life Example:

A woman in our neighborhood lost her husband unexpectedly to COVID a year ago. It turns out that he was the main cook in the family. When he was gone, she and her grown sons were at a loss regarding weekly meals.

I reached out to her via text and offered to make her meals. She totally took me up on it! Over the course of a few weeks, we brought her a couple of batches of breakfast tacos, baked spaghetti, and a spread of Mexican food.

Sometimes I would drop it off at her front porch because I didn’t want to bombard her, and then I’d text her that the food was there.

This was not a huge hassle to make her family meals, but it was a way to tangibly serve and love a hurting family.

Give the gift of meals to a hurting friend or struggling family, and speak the love of Christ to their hearts!

Sit With Them

This can be tricky for many of us who have a tendency to fill awkward silences with our not-so-wise words.

When in doubt, just sit with your loved ones.

Be with them. Be willing to endure some moments of silence because you know that your presence is needed.

Sometimes you might not know what to say. That’s fine.

Your physical presence will speak louder than any words you could muster during your time together.

And honestly, your friend or family member may not have any agenda at all, they just want someone to literally sit with them.

So do that.

Sit with them for a while, and after some time has passed, maybe offer to take a walk and get some fresh air.

Whatever you do, make sure that you communicate that you’re not going anywhere. You’re sticking around.

I’ve heard from multiple people that many times after a horrific loss, friendships change. Why is that?

There are some people who can’t handle the grief of their friend, and the friendship just fades away. That’s super sad.

Don’t be the friend who disappears.

Be the kind of friend who stays.

Remember

A friend of mine from college lost her precious baby girl at 18 months. Horrific.

That happened almost 6 years ago.

Something she’s shared is how meaningful it is when people speak her daughter’s name in conversations with her and choose to remember.

The silence and indifference from certain friends has been extremely painful for her.

The ones who continually choose to remember her precious daughter and speak her name, or write it in cards, those are people who continue to lift her spirits, even 6 years later.

That’s what we need to do with our friends or family members who’ve lost loved ones. We need to choose to remember.

Keep track of the day they passed away and another day, like their birthday, and reach out to that person on those days.

It’s not just birthdays and Heaven days that are challenging. The specific day doesn’t matter. Their loved one is ALWAYS missed and thought about. Every. Single. Day.

Show compassion to those in your life who are grieving by choosing to remember their loved one.

Listen in Love

When someone you love is trudging through grief, they might have a lot to say or not much at all. Everyone grieves differently. No one knows how they will grieve until they’re faced with it.

In those moments where a loved one needs to pour out their heart, be the one to listen in love.

When I say listen in love, I mean these things:

  • Don’t have an agenda, just be there
  • Do more listening than responding
  • Make eye contact and non-verbal responses
  • Put your hand on their shoulder or leg to show compassion and concern
  • Offer to pray for them
  • Ask questions to get them to elaborate or continue sharing
  • No judgments if they’re super emotional or sound irrational, they may just need to vent
  • Respond with, “I’m so sorry you’re hurting,” or “I can’t imagine your pain, but I’m here for you.”
  • Stay as long as necessary
  • Thank them for their courage to share such tremendous pain with you
  • Honor confidentiality

The next time a friend is struggling or walking through grief, offer to come over and be with them. If they choose to share, listen in love. It’s a great way to show compassion!

No Platitudes

This one is extremely important, so please don’t stop reading!

I’ve told you 5 things you should do to show compassion to your loved ones. Now I’m telling you 1 thing not to do.

Please don’t try to lessen someone’s grief by speaking hurtful, unhelpful platitudes.

I have heard RIDICULOUS things that no one should ever have to hear from people who seem to mean well, but should never have opened their mouth in the first place.

What do I mean by platitudes?

A platitude, by definition, is a statement that is considered meaningless and boring because it has been made many times before in similar situations.

I’m pretty sure that none of us want to share meaningless and boring things to our loved ones who are grieving. No thank you!

Here are some examples of what you should never say to someone who is grieving.  Some are platitudes, some are just plain RUDE!

  • “At least you still have 2 other children.”
  • “There must have been some problems with the baby, so it makes sense that you miscarried.”
  • “Time heals all wounds.”
  • “At least you have the memories.”
  • “Maybe God is trying to show you something through this death.”
  • “It will all work out.”
  • “I guess it was her time to go.”
  • “Stay busy so you won’t think about it.”
  • “At least she’s in a better place.”
  • “You’re going to grow from this.”
  • “I understand how you feel, I just lost my cat.”
  • “If I lost my husband, I wouldn’t be able to go on.”
  • “If you need anything, just call.”

I wanted to make a note about the last one, because I’ve been guilty of this too.

It sounds kind initially to say, “If you need anything, just call.” However, grief experts say to instead make a very specific tangible offer that you can follow through on. For instance, say, “Which night can I bring dinner this week?” That way, you are letting them know that you will be bringing dinner over, they just have to pick the night. Way less stressful for them.

When you’re trying to show compassion to your loved ones who are grieving, avoid the trite platitudes and stick with, “I’m so sorry for your loss.”

Validate their loss and pain, showing them that you care.

Let’s Wrap It Up!

Thanks for hanging with me through this post! You really care about showing compassion and kindness to those in your life who are grieving, and that’s honorable!

Remember that when people are grieving, it’s oftentimes new territory for them. There is no one-size-fits-all formula. And no one knows how they will grieve until they’re faced with it.

Show lots of grace to your people. Be a generous listener and giver of your time.

Let those who are hurting know that you’re sticking around, and they don’t have to face this beast alone.

My challenge to you before you’re done is to please SHARE this article with someone in your life who needs this encouragement! Please help me educate and empower others to grow in compassion. I can’t do it alone!

Lots of love to each of you!

Lisa

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13)

Cover Photo by Kat Smith on Pexels

Here are some more wonderful articles!

Hope in Suffering: 7 Ways To Fight The Darkness

5 Tips For Infertility: Skip The Painful Baby Showers!

Tips To Talk About Death and Other Hard Things With Your Kids

Infertility Awareness: Hope For Every Woman Suffering

6 Powerful Ways To Help A Struggling Child

14 Comments

  1. Elaine

    Thank you for reminding people about writing notes and cards – the personal touch. With social media, so many people no longer think to do that.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      You’re welcome. I’m determined to bring back handwritten notes. It’s a lost art these days!

  2. Anglophonic

    I really needed this! Thank you so much for your words

    Reply
    • Lisa

      I’m so glad you found this article helpful and timely!

  3. Michelle

    This is so helpful! A lot of us feel stuck, and don’t know what to do or don’t want to intrude! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Reply
    • Lisa

      You’re welcome, Michelle. Grief is hard to navigate, but when we take the time to walk with those we love through their hard moments, it really communicates that we care.

  4. Tamera-YourChristianBestFriend

    Platitudes are the worse! It’s best to sit in silence and just be there than to say some empty statement.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Yes, just being present speaks louder than any lame platitudes!

  5. Emma Lisa

    What an empowering article, so inspired!

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks for the encouragement! I’m so glad you found this helpful.

  6. Marcy

    Lisa, thanks for the motivating and practical thoughts about grieving!

    Reply
    • Lisa

      You’re welcome, Marcy! I’m so glad you found these tips helpful.

    • LG

      This article cane right on time. Such timely advice and reminders.

    • Lisa

      Thanks so much. I’m glad you found this advice helpful.

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