9 Ways to Ease The Agony of Grief

When the heart breaks.

My heart breaks as I listen to the news of killings in our country and around the world. Regardless of who you are or where you come from, when someone you love dies, it blows a hole in your heart, leaves a vacant chair at your table, and changes your life forever. My experience being widowed twice in four years gives me the expertise to say you can easy the agony of someone’s grief.

9 ways to ease the agony of grief. 


Look for the person who is grieving. Smile at them. Talk with her or him. Don’t avoid them because you don’t know what to say, or you feel uneasy. Push through the feeling of awkwardness; they need you.

Here’s what the American Cancer Society suggests.

Acknowledge the situation.
Example: “I heard that your_____ died.”
Use the word “died”. That will show that you are more open to talk about how the person really feels.

Express your concern.
Example: “I’m sorry to hear that this happened to you.”

Be genuine in your communication and don’t hide your feelings.
Example: “I’m not sure what to say, but I want you to know I care.

Offer your support.
Example: “Tell me what I can do for you.”


Pray for them often and tell them that you are. Ask them how they need God to show up in their life. Do they need provision?  How about wisdom for parenting?  What about all the decisions they have to make?

I assure you they need prayer for the grace to deal with people who will undoubtedly say inappropriate things! Could you pray for their comfort? Likely they need prayer for the pain to abate. (Grief hurts down to your bones.)


Give them time and space to grieve. Let them cry, talk, laugh, howl and process. Grieving will probably look different than you expect and take longer than you think.


Ask them to tell you about the person who died.  Ask what they were like and what they miss the most. 
Find out how they met and what they did for fun. They need to talk about their loss.


If you knew the deceased, write a letter about them. Share what you remember about their character, or a shared experience, or a tale that brings laughter, or an account that confirms what a great person they were.


Invite them for dinner, or Bible Study, for a game night or to join you for a walk. They are lonely and feel awkward everywhere.  


Celebrate them. Send cards. Take them out for birthdays and wedding anniversaries.  I can’t overemphasize the significance of these dates! 


Offer financial assistance if you can. Even if there is life insurance, it may not be available for months. Ask them if they need a loan or a financial gift if you are able. Gift cards for restaurants, oil changes, lawn service or gas stations are always appreciated.   


Make a note on your calendar to send a card or flowers on the 6 & 12 month anniversary of the death. Let them know they aren’t forgotten.

Do what you can to ease the agony of grief.  

Remember, you don’t have to do all these things. Pick the ones that are easy for you. Whatever you do will make a big difference.

What would you add to the list? Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you. 


  1. Barb Baumann on August 12, 2019 at 1:57 am

    Just listen, no comments needed

    • Robyn Dykstra on August 12, 2019 at 3:08 am

      So true. Listening is a gift!

  2. Kay Zehr on August 12, 2019 at 12:44 pm

    Thank u, Robyn for the good ideas/suggestions! I think I’m going to copy this off & give it to our church to put in our bulletin. Is very helpful. Thank u again.

    • Robyn Dykstra on August 12, 2019 at 2:01 pm

      Thanks, Kay. What a great idea.

  3. Marlene E Livingston on August 13, 2019 at 2:08 pm

    Thank you for the number 1 advise, talk to them. My Father passed away on May 29th, I recently have gotten together with close friends and not one of them asked how I was doing. or brought up about my dad’s passing. So just ask, it would be more meaningful then awkward.

    • Robyn Dykstra on August 13, 2019 at 2:35 pm

      So sorry Marlene. That’s stinky.
      I’m sure they were oblivious and probably thought it would upset you to talk about your dad.

  4. Anita Evans on August 18, 2019 at 2:09 pm

    I appreciate that you said to use died. If the person had received Christ as their Lord there’s hope in death. The saved will be reunited. We must share that hope. Also, words are not always necessary. Just being there at the visitation or funeral means so much. Hold their hand, give a hug.

    • Robyn Dykstra on August 18, 2019 at 8:49 pm

      So true Anita.
      Thanks for sharing your great advice.

  5. Robin on August 20, 2019 at 11:35 am

    Hold their hand, give them a hug, let them cry, just listen , you don’t have to fix any thing or suggest any thing, just being there and supportive is I think all that is necessary some times and don’t forget to follow up and check in from time to time…

    • Robyn Dykstra on August 20, 2019 at 1:05 pm

      GREAT Additions to the ways to ease grief.
      Thanks for posting, Robin.

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