How to Help a Grieving Friend During the Holidays



From the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and Beloit Regional Hospice

The holidays, especially the first ones after a loved one’s death, can be particularly difficult.  Friends and family members may be unsure how to act or what to say to support their grieving loved one.  In general, the best way to help is to let them know you care. They need to be remembered, and they need to know their loved ones are remembered, too.   Friends and family members should not be afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing, because making an effort and showing honest concern will be appreciated.


Here are some tips that grieving people have shared:

  1. Be supportive of the way your friend chooses to celebrate the holidays.  Some may wish to follow traditions; others may choose to change their rituals.
  2. Offer to help with tangible tasks such as baking, cleaning or decorating. Seemingly simple tasks can be overwhelming while dealing with grief.
  3. Invite the person to attend a religious service with you and your family.
  4. Offer to help with holiday shopping or share your favorite catalogs or on-line shopping sites.
  5. Invite your friend to your home for the holidays.
  6. Inquire if your friend is interested in volunteering during the holiday season. Doing something for someone else may help him or her feel better about the holidays.
  7. Make a donation in memory of your friend’s loved one as a reminder that his or her special person is not forgotten.
  8. Remember not to tell your friend that he or she should be “over it;” grief is an individual process and there are no right or wrong ways to grieve.
  9. If your friend wants to talk about the deceased loved one or feelings associated with the loss, LISTEN. Don’t worry about being conversational…. just listen.
  10. Remind the person you are thinking of him or her and the loved one who died.  Cards, phone calls and visits are great ways to stay in touch.


Beloit Regional Hospice has more information about grief at the holidays available for anyone who would like copies.  Some topics include The Griever’s Holiday Bill of Rights, ideas for a personal candlelight memorial and ways to ease your concerns about the holidays after the death of a friend or loved one.  Please contact the Beloit Regional Hospice grief support program toll-free 877-363-7421 Monday through Friday 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. or by emailing


Did You Know…

Many people are not aware that Beloit Regional Hospice can provide grief support to anyone who has experienced the death of a friend or loved one.  BRH provides bereavement support to the families we serve AND to other members of the communities we work in whose loved ones were not involved in hospice or palliative care programs.  Services include grief support groups, bereavement mailings, short-term appointments in our office and services for children.  Call or email BRH for more information.