Are flowers and casseroles what you really want when you’re grieving? Probably not. Here’s how to get the invaluable support you need after a loss.

I’ll never forget a conversation I had with my friend Alison the week after my husband died. I had just moved from the UK to Canada, and was getting set up in a hastily booked apartment. Alison asked me what I needed. “Nothing,” I said, unable to think straight about much of anything. “Do you have any sheets to sleep on tonight?” she asked. “No,” I said. “How about plates or utensils or food?” she continued. “No, I don’t have those either.” We laughed, and Alison proceeded to do the thinking for me. I was lucky.

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Later I learned that nearly all grieving people struggle to articulate their needs, particularly in those disorienting first few weeks and months. People ask how they can help, but we can’t think of what to ask for. And then those well-meaning friends do the only things they can think of: they send flowers or deliver casseroles. A week later the flowers are wilting and the casseroles are uneaten, because we don’t have much of an appetite. …

Now hospices can meet the growing demand for bereavement support with regular tips and reminders delivered via text

Since launching , I’ve been asked time and time again if I find it depressing doing this work. The answer is always, always no.

I don’t find this work depressing — in fact, I’ve never been happier at work than I am today.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some days when the weight and knowledge of people’s losses can feel overwhelming. …

When someone we know loses a loved one, it’s hard to know what to say or do.

We often struggle with our own fear and discomfort. We don’t know how to help. And instead of reaching out to the griever, we shrink away, hoping they will eventually return to “normal.”

But it’s a fallacy to think that life will go back to normal for the griever. Instead of going away, grief becomes the new normal. And that silence, that lack of outreach, can become a widening gap that’s more and more difficult to bridge.

At least that’s what happened to me when I lost my husband 15 years ago. …


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At Grief Coach we believe in people, and in our capacity to help each other when things go pear-shaped.

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