Processing Grief: Tips for Helping a Grieving Friend

Everyone deals differently with the loss of a loved one.  When a person suffers a loss, they can experience a deep sense of grief that often is hard to overcome.  The bereavement process can include a wide range of emotions and occurrences for the bereaved, so it can be hard, as a friend or family member, to determine how to best support them in this time.   As a supporter, it is important, first, to recognize the signs of grief in your friend, and second, to be there in a way that is both supportive but not overbearing.

Grief is unique to the person. No loss of a loved one can be considered “standard,” so there is no standard process for grieving.  There are, however, five common stages a person may experience while grieving. According to, the stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These stages have been identified as a framework to help us learn to live with our loss. While they are tools that help frame and identify what we may be feeling, they are linear stops on a timeline toward healing. In fact, not everyone experiences each of them and they don’t necessarily happen in a specific order. Not only are the stages throughout the grieving process unique to individuals, so are the ways in which each person experiences a specific stage. Visit for a deeper look at what one experiences at each individual stage.

As a supporter, do your best to recognize the stage of grief your friend is dealing with and try to act accordingly.  If your friend is in the anger stage, their feelings have likely surfaced and they are learning to cope. Reassure that you are there for them always and know that any negative comments made during this time are not personal attacks.  Similarly, when dealing with bargaining stage, it is important to assure them that this loss is not their fault and there is nothing they could have done differently.

There is no set period of time that a person grieves, but in any case, it will take time. The grieving process can last a month or it can last years; it simply depends on the person.  It is not uncommon for the bereaved to become frustrated when struggling to move passed their grief, so patience is key.  People who are grieving often feel lonely throughout the process as well, especially when losing a spouse.  Be sensitive to the impact of the loss and assure them that you will be by their side every step of the way.

One of the best things you can do for a grieving friend is to be present.  Call them and visit regularly.  Checking up on them will help them feel supported and loved even on their saddest days.  It’s certainly never an easy process to experience loss and grief, but by supporting a friend or loved one the best you can, you may make the process a little more bearable.

If you or a loved one is struggling with grief, don’t hesitate to reach out to Celtic Healthcare and ask to speak with a Bereavement Coordinator.  Our trained counselors will be able to help and support you as you work through the process of loss.  Contact Celtic at 1.888.923.5842 or at 1.800.358.8227 for our Illinois office.

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