Sympathy: How to Help Those in Grief


I was visiting with a close friend who was recently with a family struck by loss. We spoke candidly, as we often do, and I asked her what in the world you should bring people during a time that is devastating and life altering. Frankly, I feel clueless in this area. 

Here are some ideas & suggestions that I hope you’ll find helpful – though I wish no one ever had to go through it. 


If the family has asked for privacy and no visitors, honor them. If they want you – they’ll ask. Sometimes we want to rally and support because we too feel helpless. It’s hard to not make their grief about us sometimes. So, make yourself available, but do not intrude.


  • First, if you’re thinking of bringing food, know the dietary needs of the family you’re trying to bless. These days there are so many people with nut allergies and not to mention gluten and dairy intolerant.
  • Breakfast food. With this particular family in grief, they actually needed this the most. 
  • Bring food prepared in disposable containers. On a GOOD day, nobody wants to do dishes. Never mind the chore of returning dishes. 


I would have never thought of bringing these items:

  • Toilet paper
  • Paper towels
  • Paper plates
  • Plastic utensils
  • Garbage bags
  • Laundry baskets 


  • Warm, fuzzy (large) blankets 
  • Coloring books
  • Legos 

I hope you’ve found this helpful and as insightful as I have, though I dread the day this knowledge may come in handy. 


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