Four Ways You Can Support Someone After Loss

March 2, 2016

We seem to have the week of ‘Four’ at Still Standing Magazine. Synchronicity? Or maybe as Kristin Binder would say it is because if the special bond loss sisters & writers share.

In my book ‘Grieving Parents: Surviving Loss as a Couple’ I wrote about ‘The Art of Presence’: “Be there, not merely in the moment of crisis. Walk alongside me in the months and years to come. Allow me my process of healing. Sit with me in the moments of painful emotions and the darkness of depression.”

Recently I have become more and more aware of the powerful healing that can occur if we just practice the Art of Presence.

So here is what I have found to be the important four things you can do for a friend who has experienced the loss of someone they love – and you might like to share this article with them, if you agree:

  1. Be there
    Sounds simple. Is it simple? It needs practice, practice to stay with someone in pain, practice to just be. Accept that you might be feeling uncomfortable in the other person’s pain, it’s ok, you may still remain there with them. You don’t need to do or say anything, just your presence will be appreciated.
    It is an illusion that in times of crisis people need space. Respect someone’s wish, if they tell you so. Otherwise, be present.
  1. Witness the pain
    Bereaved people might openly show their sadness and grief. Others might show strong emotions like anger and rage at the injustice of death having taken their loved one too soon.
    Allow your friend’s pain. Welcome their tears. Welcome their strong emotions. A person expressing strong emotions is relieving tension, it is a normal and healthy reaction, unless they are likely to harm themselves or others.
  1. Remember the loved one
    After loss, people often want to talk about their lost loved one. Grieving Parents want to talk about their baby, their child. Remember their love one with them. Mention their name. Talk about your memories.
    People are often afraid at the potential of increasing the bereaved person’s pain. Let me tell you, your mentioning the loved one’s name cannot increase the pain that they have already experienced through the loss. Even though the mentioning of my daughter’s name brought sadness, it also brought joy to my heart that people remembered and spoke about her.
  1. Saying less is more
    Do not try to fix their pain by saying something to cheer them up or attempting to remind them to be grateful of what the still have. There are so many statements made in a helpless attempt to relieve the person’s pain. Those sentences might be intellectually true but they are emotionally barren. This is why they hurt. Intellectual truth does not mend a broken heart.

I recently heard this beautiful statement, said to a friend of mine by the priest who buried their son:

Grief is homeless love.

Let the grieving people tend to the homeless love in their broken heart.

With Love,


Grief is homeless Love - Grief Quotes Nathalie Himmelrich


  • Nathalie Himmelrich the author of a number of resource books for bereaved parents. As a relationship coach, grief recovery expert and bereaved mother herself she believes that relationships (intimate and to other support people) are the foundation for a healthy grieving experience. She is also the founder of the Grieving Parents Support (GPS) Network and the May We All Heal peer support group. Find Nathalie's books here: Nathalie Himmelrich or the Grieving Parents Support Network here: Grieving Parents


    • Toni DePaul

      April 7, 2016 at 9:03 am

      Good Morning, Can you explain that quote to me. “Homeless love”.. I dont quite understand the meaning.. My family has experienced alot of loss and I follow a couple of families on facebook w children battling cancer. Im always trying to comfort someone if I can.. Thank you for the tips and Im gonna look into your book.

      1. Nathalie Himmelrich

        April 8, 2016 at 4:04 am

        Dear Toni,
        Thank you for your question.
        Here is the way I see this quote: When we love someone and that someone dies, we don’t have a physical place for that love to ‘go’. We experience all the emotional responses commonly called grieving. Queen Elizabeth said: “Grief is the price we pay for love” and when the love has no physical home it turns into grief = homeless love.
        Does that make sense?
        I’m looking forward to hearing how the book Grieving Parents: Surviving Loss as a Couple has supported you.
        All Love, Nathalie

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