Providing assistance to a grieving family can be an invaluable gift of support. But how and when to help a family can be a difficult and tricky question because even the grief stricken family won’t always know what they need or want. One thing for certain though, you should create a support network for a grieving family. Below are guidelines to assist you:

1. Put one trusted person in charge as the main support person. Perhaps that person can be in charge of assisting with household operations or staying with the family. The support person should be someone other than an immediate family member.

2. The main support person can delegate to other volunteers. Others can be in charge of various tasks ranging from babysitting to planning meals. Volunteers should report back to the main person in charge to avoid confusion or more upset to the family.

3. Consider having the support person stay with the family. The person should at least be there during the day to help with phone messages as well as the deliveries of remembrance gifts, condolences, food and sympathy flowers. Even if the family needs to be alone, the support person could stay in a separate part of the home.

4. Try to have someone relieve the support person periodically. Sometimes well-wishers, deliveries and the phone calls can be exhausting for the main support person. If there are issues that arrive when this main contact person is away, all helpers should still contact him or her so the family is not disturbed.

5. The support network should respect the choices of the grieving family. Although it may be hard to understand some of the family’s choices, it is important to accept the family’s decisions. Just know that setting up an effective communication network during the initial stages of grief can with preventing any extra stress on the family.

6. As a friend who wants to help, be sensitive to the complete picture of grief. Instead of assuming what the family needs to hear or do, take guidance from the bereaved and the situation. In the beginning, don’t place too much on the family’s plate either, such as giving suggestions for coping or asking when thank you notes will be written. Most things can wait until the family requests guidance or may not need to be addressed at all.

For additional support or guidance,  get a free copy of “How to Help Someone who is Grieving – A Grief Support Guide,” written by Chelsea Hanson.